Several members of the Michiana Proud Boys, a branch of the right-wing group, entered the St. Joseph County Public Library’s Virginia M. Tutt Branch and berated staff for allegedly pushing sexuality onto children on Monday, according to the South Bend Tribune.
A YouTube video, seen by Newsweek, was uploaded the following day that showed the Proud Boys confronting with staff about the LGBTQ+ books that were going to be read to children.
In the 43-minute clip, the Proud Boys members said staff were “grooming” children’s minds and opening them up to “perversion.” In a bid to publicize the disruption, one of the members could be seen holding the local Proud Boys’ flag.
At one point in the video, a mother also got involved in the confrontation and criticized the hosts over the event. During the course of the clip, Proud Boys members could be seen praising one another after the parent became involved.
Those who had planned to host the Rainbow Storytime said at multiple times during the event that it was “not about sex.”
Library security and police officers were later seen at the site speaking with the mother and Proud Boys.
According to the South Bend Tribune, the event was postponed after many of the families left the library.
Marissa Gebhard, a communications manager for the local libraries told the outlet: “It is a shock and we are very disappointed an event celebrating LGBTQ+ communities was disrupted. Our staff are very affected by this.”
She added the event would be rescheduled and that any books that were read would be “carefully selected.”
Gebhard told the South Bend Tribune: “The library will always be a welcoming place for everyone of all viewpoints, so the library will continue to offer programs like this no matter what the response is.”
Proud Boys have previously disrupted Pride events at libraries across the country. Earlier this month, Proud Boys disrupted a Pride Storytime event at a library in New Hanover, North Carolina. Parents, who attended with their children, said they felt unsafe and said there was a confrontational atmosphere from those at the event.
Newsweek has contacted the St. Joe County Public Library and the South Bend Police Department for comment.
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, Proud Boys “are known for anti-Muslim and misogynistic rhetoric” and have appeared at violent gatherings including the storming of the Capitol on January 6 and the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.
The group was founded by VICE Media co-founder Gavin McInnes in 2016 and has since been designated as a terrorist entity by the Canadian government, and it has became notorious for political confrontations.
According to the Anti-Defamation League, some Proud Boys have espoused white supremacist and anti-Semitic ideologies.
Newsweek found the Michiana Proud Boys Telegram page has shared anti-COVID-19 vaccine posts as well as anti-Semitic content.
The Telegram channel also forwarded a post by the white supremacist group Patriot Front after several of their members were arrested before they allegedly planned to crash an LGBT event in Idaho.
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