On Saturday, February 18th, members of the Parasol Patrol and their supporters stopped a group of violent Proud Boys from physically storming their way into a bookstore in Silver Spring, Maryland which was hosting a Drag Queen Story Hour event. Despite the clashes outside, the event inside was not disrupted.
According to one local report:
The standoff between the Proud Boys and supporters of the reading event ended with one person bleeding from the face. Montgomery County Councilwoman Kristin Mink claims the far-right, all-male group arrived and tried to scare families and children away from attending the Drag Story Hour at Loyalty Books. She claims the community formed “a wall of safety and support” and that the children who were attending the event were none the wiser. “We will never back down,” the councilwoman wrote on Twitter.
John Zittrauer is one of the people who showed up to shield children from the protest. He’s a volunteer with the “Parasol Patrol,” a group that uses brightly coulored umbrellas to form that barrier. “Our community is large and welcoming and full of love and acceptance, and nothing is going to slow that down,” Zittrauer told WUSA9 Monday. He explained the group was welcoming families at the event when a dozen or so Proud Boys showed up and tried to enter the store.
“Our main goal was to make sure that nobody got in and disrupted the event,” Zittrauer said, “and so we were kind of holding a wall to make sure that didn’t happen and there was some chaos.”
[Mink] claims the Proud Boys became violent, kicking and pushing while shouting at families on megaphones, while the community held the line and drowned them out with music and cheers.
The Parasol Patrol uses umbrellas to great a wall of defense against potential far-Right attackers. From their website, they write that they “shield children and young people at LGBTQIA+ and BIPOC events. We use umbrellas to create a visual barrier so kids won’t have to see the signs and angry faces and we even have noise canceling headphones for the little ones because grown adults come with bullhorns to yell at children.”
Proud Boys, neo-Nazi groups, and other fascist and white supremacist organizations have been on the front lines of attacking LGBTQ+ events and Pride celebrations, often activated by Fox News pundits, online grifters, and disinformation campaigns.