Proud Boys disrupt Pride event at library in South Bend

Published: Jun. 29, 2022 at 6:14 PM EDT
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - A Rainbow Storytime program at the St. Joseph County Public Library’s Virginia M Tutt Branch in South Bend was forced to postpone after several men who affiliated themselves with the alt-right Proud Boys entered the library and said they wanted to cancel the event.

This all happened on Monday afternoon. The only video of this incident was posted to a brand new YouTube page called Michiana Proud Boys.

Instead of learning about the different perspectives written in these children’s books, folks at Monday’s Rainbow Storytime heard from the group of Proud Boy protesters who claimed the books contained pornographic images.

“They don’t have the right to plant a seed of doubt about one’s own personal body,” one of the protesters said. “God gave you that body and you don’t have the right to make them question that ability. We can’t allow them to push this smut on children’s minds without their knowledge.”

More than a half dozen men identifying themselves as Proud Boys affiliates seemed to have just one goal in mind—canceling the event.

While library employees agree that it’s a place to share and express all ideas, they said this action pushed their tolerance to the breaking point.

“We welcome absolutely everyone, no matter what their views are on a certain issue, but we can’t have disruption,” says Marissa Gebhard, communications manager for the St. Joseph County Public Library. “We have a library code of conduct, so we allow certain types of behavior, and other types of behavior are just not permitted.”

Gebhard says the men who disrupted the Rainbow Storytime went too far. The library was forced to call the police, who said the situation was resolved without any arrests or citations.

The unexpected interruption did give the library reason to reconsider some of their public safety policies.

“The library is a safe place, and we want to continue to make it a safe place,” Gebhard says. “So, we work with the South Bend Police Department very closely, and we’re re-examining what some of our policies and procedures are related to safety and public programs.”

Gebhard says the disruption forced them to cancel Rainbow Storytime that day, but she says they plan to reschedule it for a later date.

The library also issued the following response to this incident, saying they stand firmly against misinformation and censorship and that they’re deeply saddened and disappointed about the disruption of their event celebrating the LGBTQ+ community.

This isn’t the first time the Proud Boys have targeted library Pride Month events this year. In the map below, you can see where other libraries across the U.S. have been targeted by similar disruptions throughout the month of June.

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