On Wednesday, Feb. 1, protesters posted themselves outside the public library on East 96th Street, between Lexington and Park Avenues, where a “Drag Story Hour” event was being held, according to video footage shared on Twitter by independent reporter Talia Jane.
“Libraries are for everyone,” a girl in the back of a black SUV yelled in response to the group of protesters, who held signs that read “stop taking children’s innocence away” and shouted profanities and anti-LGBTQ+ slurs, including “groomers” and “pedophiles,” according to Jane’s account.
Protesters were positioned at the entrance to the library, behind blockades, as NYPD officers managed the scene. It was the same group, according to Jane, that had shown up to protest a December “Drag Story Hour” in Chelsea, attended by Council Member Erik Bottcher, whose apartment building was later broken into and vandalized.
On the Upper East Side, Council Members have also gotten involved. Council Majority Leader Keith Powers, who called the protest “ridiculous,” wrote on Twitter: “If you’re thinking about spending your day protesting a free, voluntary children’s event at a public library: maybe stop and take a long hard look at yourself.” Some commenters criticized Powers’ stance, expressing dismay that the event was funded by taxpayer money.
In a statement to Our Town, Powers reiterated his support of the library event. “Families should not have to walk past protesters to get to a free, voluntary storytelling event at their neighborhood public library,” he said. “These hateful anti-LGBTQ protests have no place on the East Side. I will be speaking to the local precinct about this incident and next steps we can take to ensure these events are safe for families in our district.”
Council Member Julie Menin said in a statement that she has also been in contact with the 19th Precinct, which overlaps her own district and Powers’, where the protest occurred, about the “location of the protest” outside the library’s doors. “Children and families should not be forced to be accosted by such vile and vitriolic hatred as they enter and exit the library,” she said.
“These hateful anti-LGBTQ protests have no place on the East Side.” City Council Majority Leader Keith Powers