Around 50 right-wingers ascended to Old Nick’s to intimidate a drag queen story time performance and the greater queer community on Sunday, Oct. 23. This came after right-wing provocateurs and media spread lies and misinformation across social media outlets and in national media publications about Vanellope, an 11 year-old that was performing that day. While there were fascists hailing from across the region, over 200 members of the queer community and its accomplices successfully defended the area.
Noted right-wing internet personality, fascist collaborator, and known fabulist Andy Ngo put out a beacon call with a tweet about the event to his conservative followers before the event. It was then picked up by Fox News, Daily Caller and the UK publication Daily Mail. Right-wingers tried to claim they were defending 11-year-old performer Vanellope Macpherson through misinformation that she was being groomed. They also led on people to believe that Old Nick’s was a bar not fit for kids, when in fact it is a pub that is only closed to minors after 8 PM and often holds all-ages events during the day.
”As to those who say V is being forced into this, she is not. At the age of 7 she asked her aunt if she could participate. Sunshine, who is her real drag mother and mentor, said yes as she wanted to support her niece and let her express herself,” The family said in a statement published by the Eugene Weekly.
Around 11:30 AM Felix Raissner, who identified as a member of Vanellope’s extended family, held a press conference with an open mic in the back lot of Old Nick’s. They had put out a call to action on Facebook “to surround the pub with love and support for Vanellope and Drag Queen Story Time” a few days earlier.
“What does drag mean to you? Think about it. What really? Is it? Is it just the chance to perform? Is it the chance to explore who we are? Or is it just because we want to? There’s nothing wrong with that,” Raissner said to the crowd at the presser.
In attendance across the street from Old Nick’s was Proud Boys, neo-nazis, Christo-fascists, and more members of the far-right. Several of them carrying hand-guns, paintball guns, and/or mace. Richard Elce, a right wing extremist with history of violence, threatened to hit people with his flag pole, something he has tried before. A man in skull mask, who stood with a half dozen other the Rose City Nationalists, openly identified as a nazi and did a sieg heil.
In the middle of the road between the fascists instigators and the community members defending the families at Old Nick’s, was Lane County Commissioner-elect for Springfield, David Loveall. During the George Floyd BLM protests of 2020, Loveall stood with a group of other white men on Main Street in Springfield carrying rifles, intimidating peaceful protestors. Loveall said he was ”trying to get both sides” by attending the drag queen story time protest. This after days of threats that were targeted towards Old Nick’s by right-wingers.
“There is a religious side here and people that are protesting about some child issues they don’t agree with and there is some people over here protecting there rights as people that support what is going on,” Loveall said to two concerned community members asking him questions.
At about 12:30 PM the anti-queer right-wingers began retreating. As that was happening community defenders chanted ”go home nazis” and they backed up. As the fascists arrived about a block down they sprayed mace indiscriminately and shot underpowered paintball guns.
About a half hour later individuals started spreading the message that proud boys were stationed on the corners a block out — they never came and families were able to leave the venue in safety.