OLD NICK’S DRAG EVENT SUCCESSFUL DESPITE NATION-WIDE HATE-MONGERING, LOCAL INTIMIDATION

Editor’s Note

This article is running concurrently on Double-Sided Media. Click here to read on their site with additional photos.

This year, the far right launched an intensified effort across the United States to intimidate, attack, and ultimately stifle the LGTBQIA+ community. Family-friendly drag queen storytime events were some of the most frequent targets, with attacks in California, Iowa, Florida, Minnesota, and Arizona among other places.. On Oct. 31, a donut shop in Tulsa, Oklahoma was even firebombed with a Molotov cocktail.

Oregon is no different., in the early morning hours of Oct. 18, a Twitter account run by Chelly Bouferrache—using the handle @hunnybadgermom—posted a thread about the following weekend’s Drag Queen Story Time Brunch at Old Nick’s Pub in Eugene. It featured an 11-year-old performer, Vanellope MacPherson Dupont.

THE LEAD-UP

Within hours, right-wing propagandist Andy Ngô tweeted his own thread regarding “controversy [having] erupted” over the event. Ngô has a long and sordid history of producing propaganda for bigots. He’s currently on the anti-drag bandwagon, stoking the kind of hate that’s currently motivating right-wing terror across the country. Throughout the day, Old Nick’s Pub’s Facebook page for the event received hateful and queerphobic comments. They ranged from the typical complaints that the pub should lose their liquor license to the outlandish assertions that anyone interested—or performing—in drag is a pedophile. The pub also had to disconnect their phone due to incessant threats and harassment.

Much of the controversy surrounded Vanellope’s ex-”drag mom” Kelsey Boren, who is currently in jail on charges that relate to child sex abuse. Right-wing media insinuates the young performer must have been groomed.

At the same time, a plethora of right-wing news outlets began pushing out the same regurgitated story about the event, many citing Ngô’s thread. These included Blaze Media, DailyMail UK, Daily Caller, National File, The Daily Wire, and Ngô’s own The Post Millennial.

_FOX News _covered it that night, too, with a discussion between host Jesse Watters and a drag queen named Kitty Demure, a member of Gays Against Groomers.

Another well known far-right aligned Twitter account, “Libs of Tik Tok”—run by former Brooklyn real estate agent Chaya Raichik—retweeted the original thread by @hunnybadgermom. Raichik’s account regularly incites harassment against queer people, usually targeting queer teachers, drag events, and trans healthcare. Her incitement led to a bomb threat against Boston Children’s Hospital.

Many of Raichik and Ngô’s followers’ tweets either directly, or indirectly, referenced the potential for violence. Some insinuated that a mass murder should occur.

LEFT is a screenshot of an Andy Ngo follower's quote tweet by user freneral. It reads 'One of these days, someone is going to redact one of these events, and I will have no sympathy for those kilIed (unless a child gets hurt). God's cup is filling and one day, it will spill over this country.' The bottom of the tweet shows its posting date as the morning of 18 Oct 22. RIGHT is A screenshot of a Quote Tweet from a follower of Andy Ngo, user TriceratopsMR, that shows a warhammer video game character and the text 'GET THE SHOTGUN.' The tweet's message reads 'Gawd it gets worst the further you read Its reads like a parody.'
Andy Ngô’s followers don’t attempt to hide their true feelings and desires.

THE RESPONSE

The same day, Oct. 18, Old Nick’s Pub released a statement on their Facebook page. They reaffirmed their support of Vanellope and explained that it “is not an inherently sexual act to dress in drag, and those sexualizing [Vanellope] are falling into a very typical societal trap of misogyny that views any female performance as sexual.”

Later that night, around 11:30 p.m., Richard Elce—a well-known violent right-wing agitator with ties to a militia group called The American Patriots Society, or “TAPS”—showed up to the pub. He circled it several times in his car, got out and harassed patrons. He eventually ran off when confronted by one of the pub’s owners. Before this, Elce posted a Facebook comment saying he planned to show up to the drag event on Oct. 23.

After returning home, he commented on a Facebook post by Audra Price, a Proud Boys affiliate who dated a Nazi and works with a far-right group called “Cops NW.” Elce said he’d been to the bar and guessed there would be “a lot of security.” Another person replied that “we need security of our own. This looks like a job for the Proud Boys.” Price replied “Already taken care of.”

The next day, Oct. 19, Old Nick’s Pub posted on Facebook, thanking the Eugene Police Department for “their steadfast support through all of this” and “the reassurance they will not allow any of our patrons or performers to be harmed by [those coming to protest].”

The same day, Matt Walsh—a self-described “theocratic fascist” pundit who thinks 16 year old girls should get married and pregnant—published his take on the situation on his YouTube channel. In the video, Walsh likened Vanellope having a drag mom to “a sort of pedophillac [sic] predatory farm system” where the “drag child is handed over to the drag mom to be groomed and conditioned.” He described what was happening as “progressivism” and compared that to cancer.

How does Walsh propose the “progressive cancer” be cured? He says that “the farther along the cancer is the more aggressive you have to be in fighting it.” That includes the criminalization of children being involved in drag events. But, he says, “we don’t have to wait for lawmakers to get their act together,” and encouraged his listeners to publicly shame those involved.

On Oct. 20, Old Nick’s put out a formal statement by Vanellope’s family on their Facebook page. The statement said, in part, that Vanellope had been doxxed online and had been unable to attend her school the week of the event. The statement also, directly, responded to the far-right’s accusations of sexual exploitation by Vanellope’s former drag mom, Kelsey Boren, who is currently held in Lane County Jail on charges that relate to child sex abuse.

“Regarding the “relationship” between Vanellope and a woman known as Kelsy Meta-Boren, there in fact was no relationship beyond a professional one,” the statement said. “Meta-Boren only interacted with V a total of maybe 4 or 5 times in professional settings for venues and charity events.” Additionally, the statement said that their contact had ceased pre-COVID-19.

“Due to the lack of interactions between them, V is not a victim of Meta-Boren,” the statement explained. “There was never any ‘grooming’ or even mentorship between Meta-Boren and V.”

Vanellope’s start in drag and future aspirations as a young performer were also brought to light.

“At the age of 7, she asked her aunt if she could participate,” the statement read. “Sunshine, who is her real drag mother and mentor, said yes as she wanted to support her niece and let her express herself.”

THE QUEENS

DSM spoke to Vanellope’s drag mother, Sunshine Ray MacPherson, who was among the other scheduled performers at the event. She said she had previously, in an emotional and stressed state, done an interview with Andy Ngô without knowing who he was or what his background entailed.

MacPherson, a “drag entertainer, ‘Bio Queen’ or ‘Faux Queen,’” as she described herself, has been performing for 13 years. Vanellope has been performing for around four years, “most of that time during [the COVID-19 pandemic with] nowhere to perform,” she said. “In Vanellope’s everyday life, I am ‘Auntie’ and I have been a friend of the family since before she was born.”

She spoke openly about the allegations against Vanellope’s ex-drag mom Kelsey Boren. “Kelsey [Boren] made some HUGE HORRIFIC [their emphasis] choices and she is paying the consequences,” MacPherson said. “We are not in contact and haven’t been since pre-COVID.”

MacPherson said that “Kelsey was only her ‘Drag Mother’ in the context that she was the first one to ‘paint’ (put on makeup) Vanellope.” She added that “[Boren] painted Vanellope a total of 3 times and every time was with me or her mother,” adding that “Kelsey did attend a few shows that Vanellope was requested to perform at.”

THE FASCISTS HAVE LANDED

The night prior to Drag Queen Story Time and the bigoted counter-demo, several far-right agitators harassed the business. One took photographs of the building’s exterior and yelled at employees about the drag show, calling them all pedophiles.

The morning of the event, supporters began gathering in the parking lot and in front of Old Nick’s Pub by 9:30 a.m., well ahead of the posted 11 a.m. start time for the anti-drag protest. The crowd began with approximately 75 people and grew to over 200, including at least a dozen legal observers from the National Lawyers Guild. There was also a handy table loaded with hot coffee, tea, snacks, and handouts.

a paper handout on white paper with black text. It reads: 'DEFEND QUEER JOY  WE PROTECT US Pathetically frantic right-wing moralists and their patriot-fascist allies are threatening today's Drag Queen Story Time and our wider queer community only the latest manifestation of a long history of heteronormative violence. They hate and fear us. Their heroes the police who exist to protect them have shown up to maintain a veneer of social peace and prevent real justice which the reactionaries terrorizing the vibrant people living their drag dreams here today are part of the same machine of authority, as are the people defending them from a counter-attack. To protect fascists from the 'violence' of self-defense is, in reality, to collaborate with their violence. As some friends wrote a decade ago during a similarly fake attempt by San Francisco cops to appear tolerant and queer-friendly. 'The specific insult of this is that it tries to erase the central fact of queer history: that queer history is visible only because of a constellation of revolts in which queer bodies fought police control. We will defend our spaces, our love, ourselves. Stonewall was a riot that never ended'
Handouts were put on a table serving coffee and snacks to those supporting Old Nick’s Pub on Oct. 23, 2022. [James Croxton // Double Sided Media]

The protesters—Proud Boys and other MAGA and Q-loving extremists—arrived around 10 a.m—earlier than planned.

Black Conservative Preacher wearing a 'FEAR GOD And Give Glory to Him' black sweatshirt. He's standing in the street holding up a tripod with a cell-phone attached at the top, livestreaming the crowd across the street. Behind him, another individual, but with their face covered, is also recording via a cellphone.
No right-wing protest would be the same without Black Conservative Preacher a.k.a. Quincy Franklin there to livestream and collect donations.

Almost as soon as the group of about 20 showed up, one man began to walk back and forth in the street and shout at the crowd in front of the pub. This man ended up getting into an altercation when he tried to pull down a banner supporters were holding. He then punched a woman through the sign, ripping it, before hurrying onto 2nd Ave. There, he was sprayed in the eyes with something before he could start a fight. An antifascist present believed it was OC spray.

a larger man with really short dark hair and beard, holds a sign and looks towards those gathered in the pub. The sign is illegible from this angle.
This man frequently antagonized those gathered in front of Old Nick’s Pub on Oct. 23, 2022, even punching one woman through a sign she was holding. [Robert Scherle // Double Sided Media]

Others helped this man wash it out and he resumed his loud transphobic rants. On “Black Conservative Preacher” aka Quincy Franklin’s livestream, the man continued his tirade, more privately, to an antifascist supporter, and said that he didn’t have an issue with gay and lesbian people. However, he has two kids and his daughter had been “made to understand from the principal” that someone is a lesbian.

Cindy Loren, who based on her attire, believe she's some sort of MAGA super solider, can be seen in this photo. She's wearing a black skateboard helmet, a low-slung mask not even covering her nose, and a respirator off her neck. She's wrapped in an American Flag and wields what appears to be an axe handle but without the blade.
One of Audra Price’s pals, Cindy Loren, can be seen here attending the protest at Old Nick’s Pub on Oct. 23, 2022. [Robert Scherle // Double Sided Media]

Around 10:15 a.m. there was an altercation with a right-wing motorist. He was stopped after attempting to drive through the street while antifascists were rerouting traffic.

Meanwhile, the queerphobic side of the street got more crowded and, at its peak, reached about 70 people — including some local politicians.

Notably present was David Loveall, who, at the time, had just won his primary for a seat on the Lane County Board of Commissioners. Loveall became controversial after he carried an AR-15-pattern rifle during a protest for George Floyd on June 6, 2020.

A color photograph looking towards the other side of the street away from Old Nick's Pub. On the left, a photographer can be seen partially in the frame. Beyond him, in the middle of the street, standing on the yellow line, is Audra Price. Bhind her and in-line with others protesting the pub is David Loveall holding up his phone's camera towards the pub. next to him, a protester also records or documents those in front of the pub.
Lane County Commissioner-elect David Loveall documents those gathered in front of Old Nick’s Pub in support of a family-friendly drag event on Oct. 23, 2022. [Mary Bell // Double Sided Media]

Solidarity News’s Mathew O-G was present when Loveall and drag supporters had a conversation in the middle of the road.

David Loveall stands in the street with Solidarity News' Matthew O-G and two community members with their children on their shoulders.
Lane County Commissioner-elect David Loveall speaks with supporters of the event at Old Nick’s Pub on Oct. 23, 2022. Children in this photo have been edited out. [Robert Scherle // Double Sided Media]

According to Solidarity News, Loveall claimed he was “trying to get both sides.”

“There is a religious side here and people that are protesting about some child issues they don’t agree with,” Loveall said, adding “and there is some people over here protecting their rights as people that support what’s going on.”

Loveall sent The Torch and Eugene Weekly a statement refuting that he was with the far-right protesters after both outlets cited DSM’s on-the-ground reporting of his presence there:

“As a representative of the \[c\]ounty, I went to the protest briefly from 11 am to 11:30 am, hopefully to learn, listen and have some dialogue with both sides to better understand the issue. I was greeted coolly and aggressively by those defending the position of the drag show when I asked to hear their concerns and subsequently escorted off that side of the street by a handful of masked patrons. I then walked 50 yards to the south and observed the event for another 15 minutes, never carrying a sign, not having any exchange of words concerning a position, nothing to indicate my ‘side’ or feeling about the matter in any way.”

Loveall’s usage of the word “patrons” is misleading. Those inside the pub for the event had to pre-purchase their ticket and it was limited to 50 seats. Those outside were holding space and supporting those performing and watching inside.

Misty Fox, who also ran for Lane County Commissioner, attended in support of the protesting “patriots.” She campaigned as a liberty and freedom candidate, “against all mandates,” who wants to make Oregon “safe, free, and productive again.” Fox only received 7.5% of the votes last May, losing to Ryan Ceniga and Dawn Lesley in the primary. Ceniga won during the General Election.

In 2018, Fox was ejected from the Columbia County Fair for carrying a concealed weapon, an action she sued over, claiming infringements of her rights.

Audra Price, with her medium long dirty blonde hair, wears a black sweatshirt. She's standing, facing the camera. Directly behind her is Richard Elce holding a large American Flag by a bamboo flagpole. To her left is the bald, but bearded, Proud Boy Barry Johnson Jr.
Audra Price of CopsNW had a large part in organizing the protest in front of Old Nick’s Pub on Oct. 23, 2022. [Robert Scherle // Double Sided Media]

Audra Price brought along a few of her other friends, too, including Julie Turcol, Cindy Loren, Dixie Bailey, Carrie Grant, Richard Elce, David Willis, Quincy Franklin a.k.a Black Conservative Preacher, and Proud Boys Barry Johnson Jr, Bryan Costa, Dustin Grant, and Troy Nichols. Quincy Franklin livestreamed the protest and solicited donations for his stream.

Elce wears all black and a hat, glasses, and gator covering his face. He's holding his bamboo flagpole and the American Flag at the end of it can be seen in the left corner of the shot. Blurred, behind him, are other bigots at the protest.
Richard Elce, face obscured or not, can’t ever be seen at a protest without his fancy bamboo flagpole. [Robert Scherle // Double Sided Media]

More Proud Boys—notably not in their usual black-and-yellow colors—were identified by Eugene Antifa. They include Joseph Lester, Jackie Vicari, Richard Wynn, Eric Rogers, Scott Gourley, Vince Burroughs, Brent Goodrich, Kyle Hasey, and Eddie Orton — many of which are from the McKenzie River chapter.

A photo of Zachary Caster. He's wearing a dark grey hat, american flag type gator, dark shirt, and camo pants. He has a tactical vest on and is holding an AR15-style rifle across his side with his right arm and hand on the trigger.
Zachary Caster holds an AR-15-style rifle during the protest in front of Old Nick’s Pub on Oct. 23, 2022. [Robert Scherle // Double Sided Media]

Around 11:15 a.m., actual Nazis arrived. Rose City Nationalists, a neo-Nazi group, stood around seig-heiling.

There were also politicians within the crowd supporting Old Nick’s Pub and their storytime event.

Eugene City Councilwoman Emily Semple was in attendance for several hours in support of Old Nick’s and the drag community, as was Springfield City Councilman Leonard Stoehr.

Just after 11 a.m., Emma Scott Lavin a.k.a. We Are Belov3d, a local artist and performer, arrived and went towards the protesters. With a few of them, she spoke passionately about her childhood and life as a trans woman. Much of it was only met with the same phrase over-and-over again: “but you’re a man!”

Yet she persisted. And she spoke loud and clear about the hypocrisy of their “Christian” beliefs:

“Let me ask you this, are our children mature enough to go into a church where they teach them that there’s going to be a rapture, and they live in fear that their parents, every time their parents disappear they think their parents have been raptured and they live in terror,” she asked. “They live in terror. If you go to ex-christian on Reddit there are hundreds of thousands of people saying that they have been abused by the church, they have been twisted inside out.”

A color photograph of a conversation happening in the middle of a large crowd. The main participants include Emily on the left. She's wearing a grey bodysuit with red dress and red wig. Her face has been painted in the same shade and her glasses are lighter in color. Across from her is Julie, in a grey shirt and slightly darker vest holding a sign. In-between the two but looking towards Emily is Audra Price.
Emily Scott Lavin, a.k.a. We Are Beloved, talks with Julie Turcol as Audra Price and others listen during the protest in front of Old Nick’s Pub on Oct. 23, 2022. [Robert Scherle // Double Sided Media]

About a half hour later, there were speeches behind Old Nick’s Pub in the parking lot. There, a smaller crowd of roughly thirty people listened intently as individuals gave impromptu and impassioned speeches about the reason for the day’s actions.

One speaker implored the crowd to remember that they were there to support Vanellope and to stand up to hate. The speeches ended with a short prayer offered by a local indigenous woman. She reminded the crowd that the community has stood up to this type of hate before, successfully running out the Volksfront-affiliated Laskey Brothers. She said that their efforts were about creating safe places for inclusion right where it’s needed, in the community.

“I want it to be safe there for me, for my family,” the woman said. “But remember, they’re [referring to the right-wingers] not the only ones who have roots in this former sun-down state. We are generations deep.”

The speakers thanked everyone for coming out and encouraged people to support Vanellope by buying stickers that read “I Stand With Vanellope.”

A photograph looking down at a table with two stickers laying on top. They are long strips and the font in a rainbow gradient. They read 'I STAND WITH VANELLOPE'
Inside the drag queen storytime event, stickers that read “#ISTANDWITHVANELLOPE” could be purchased. [Mary Bell // Double Sided Media]

This was around the time that Marcus Edwards, a well-known local christofascist with close ties to white supremacist Corey Eugene Wyatt, arrived and began his usual “preaching” to the crowd. He didn’t stay long, though, and left with a small crowd of people.

Marcus Edwards wearing a bright lime green shirt stares into the camera with a crazed look in his eyes. Behind him, a plethora of bigots and Nazis stand on the other side of the street.
Marcus Edwards spent a lot of time preaching to the people gathered in front of Old Nick’s Pub in support of the drag event on Oct. 23, 2022. [Robert Scherle // Double Sided Media]

INSIDE THE WALLS

At 12 p.m., the Drag Queen Story Time began inside the pub.

Due to the security issues, Old Nick’s had patrons pre-order their tickets and limited the audience to roughly fifty people. Entry into the pub was limited to the patio and guarded by no less than four or five armed security guards that were hired for the event.

Inside, all the seats available were filled with families and kids eating and eagerly waiting for the show to begin. People sat comfortably inside, seemingly completely unaware of the action taking place outside.

Maliena Bitchcock, the event’s host, rose to the stage and quickly introduced one of the pub’s co-owners, Emily Chappell. They said that Old Nick’s has been supporting the Drag community for over a year now. With the recent threats and ongoing protests against the Drag Queen Story Time, Maliena said, “they could have turned away, tucked their tails and run, but they didn’t.”

Chappell gave a short announcement, providing information about the show and safety plans in the case of an emergency. She especially thanked everyone who showed up and responded to the threats and harassment. Chappell was steadfast in her intentions of standing up to hate and continuing to host the event.

A photograph of two people on the stage inside Old Nick's Pub. On the left, a drag queen with a big orange wig wearing a sparkly green dress. On the right, Emily Chappell with her brown hair and wearing a pumpkin orange dress with brown belt. Bitchcock, the drag queen, is speaking into a microphone.
Opening up the drag queen storytime inside were the host, Maliena Bitchcock, and the co-owner of the pub, Emily Chappell. [James Croxton // Double Sided Media]

The Eugene Police Department did, initially, respond to the threats and provided two Guardian Trailer units for “surveillance.” However, on Sunday, they stationed themselves on the overpass and on roofs of nearby buildings, away from the bar. From their perches, they watched and recorded the proceedings without intervening much.

A photograph looking towards the Washington-Jefferson skate park in Eugene. In the direct middle is white-painted two-wheeled trailer propped up with four legs. Expanding upwards is a black pole with two cameras attached at top. In the background, and around, are a handful of bigots both on the ground and on a curved bridge behind the camera. Even further, and higher, is the I-105 overpass where two EPD officers can be seen standing in-between two cruisers.
Two EPD Guardian Trailers were installed prior to the Oct. 23 protest in front of Old Nick’s Pub. [James Croxton // Double Sided Media]

But the bar also decided to hire Guardian Security & Protection Services for the event. They checked for weapons with metal-detecting wands and conducted bag and body searches.

After the brief announcements, Chappell introduced the Drag Queen Story Time to cheers from the audience.

Maliena went on to thank Chappell for hosting and told the audience what to expect at Drag Queen Story Time: “good energy, drag queens, stories.” She said “to just have fun.”

Before starting the show, she had to acknowledge “the fly in the room, nail on the head, the elephant in the room, Vanellope.”

“Stand up and give her some love. She’s here, she’s beautiful, and she’s showing these people that you can’t keep her down,” Maliena said. “Your support is going to overshadow any of that hate out there.”

“It’s family friendly and nothing but love. Truth is, there is probably something wrong with [the far-right protesters outside] and they should see a therapist,” Maliena said.

With that, Maliena began the show with her rendition of “Perfect” by P!nk. Family friendly, upbeat, and empowering performances were given by Maliena, Sunshine Ray MacPherson, and Elektra Starr. Vanellope did not perform but read one book to the audience and sat on a couch, in front of the stage in a seat reserved especially for her, for the rest of the show.

Maliena Bitchcock, the host of the event, spoke with DSM and explained that the all-ages event was still relatively new and that the next event, in November, will be the third time it’s happened.

Bitchcock was also very thankful for the pub’s owner, Emily Chappell, and the support they’ve received from her and the pub.

“Old Nick’s is amazing [and] truly [treats] me and all my [performers] like family,” they said. “Emily didn’t even hesitate [once] threats [started] coming in. She hired security and started a safety plan to make sure we all stay safe.”

Three drag queens stand on the Old Nick's Pun stage after their drag queen story time event. Sunshine, on the left, is wearing a sparkly dark dress and gold-colored crown. Maliena, in the middle, is wearing a dress and also in a blow-up dragon costume as if she's riding it around. Elekra, on the right is wearing a sparkly black dress and has their left arm curved inward in pose.
Sunshine Ray MacPherson, Maliena Bitchcok, and Elektra Starr after the drag story time event at Old Nick’s Pub on Oct. 23, 2022. [James Croxton // Double Sided Media]

THE RETREAT

Around 12:30, the fascists began to retreat from Old Nick’s. First were the Rose City Nationalists, while Proud Boys and others held back the crowd of over 200 Drag Queen Story Time supporters following them down the road. Proud Boy Troy Nichols maced people as he drove by in a truck while Richard Elce was hit with at least a couple of water bottles during his retreat.

They didn’t leave without a “fight,” though.

As they retreated, an anti-drag demonstrator threw a paint grenade at the crowd. The paint grenade was manufactured by airsoft company Enola Gaye. McKenzie River Proud Boys leader Jeffrey Mustin haphazardly deployed what appeared to be either OC spray or bear mace manufactured by UDAP Industries, Inc. behind him as he ran in the opposite direction. Beside him, another McKenzie River Proud Boy, Jonathan Donovan, sprayed the crowd with what appear to be yellow Valken Tango .68 Caliber paintballs. One hit DSM photographer Robert Scherle straight in the forehead.

A photograph of half a plastic grenade-shape shell on the ground. It has the logo for Enola Gaye molded on the side and it's printed marking on the bottom. Around it, a handful of dry brown leaves are scattered on the ground.
Part of an Enola Gaye manufactured paint grenade that was used by far-right protesters in front of Old Nick’s Pub on Oct. 23, 2022. [James Croxton // Double Sided Media]
A color photograph looking past a blurry red stop sign and wooden electrical pole. Beyond the signs are men, with their faces covered, retreating on the 1st Ave. To the right of the wooden pole is the blue-shirted Mustin walking away. Directly in the middle of the shot is Jonathan Donovan pointed his paintball gun directly at the camera this photo is taken from. Around him and to the left are another dozen or so protesters leaving.
Seconds before McKenzie River Proud Boy Jonathan Donovan, spraying counter-protesters in front of Old Nick’s Pub on Oct. 23, 2022., hit DSM photographer Robert Scherle in the forehead. [Robert Scherle // Double Sided Media]
A photograph of my hand. in the middle, by where my fingers meet the palm, is a bright yellow paint ball that is cracked towards the bottom. A little bit of yellow paint can be seen on two of my fingers.
Yellow Valken Tango .68 caliber paintballs were indiscriminately shot by McKenzie River Proud Boy Jonathan Donovan towards those in front of Old Nick’s Pub on Oct. 23, 2022. [James Croxton]

Once pushed past the intersection of Washington St. and 1st Ave., the dueling crowds started playing volleyball—with a smoke grenade canister. At least one EG18 High Output Smoke Grenade manufactured by Enola Gaye was thrown towards the pro-drag crowd, and then returned back and forth over and over like a game of volleyball.

A black canister with yellow text standing upright on the curb. Behind it are a bunch of jagged grey rocks. The canister has yellow text and says EG18 and SMOKE. At the top is the Enola Gaye logo. There is the paper insert and powder visible on top as it is open.
This EG18 yellow smoke canister manufactured by Enola Gaye was used by the right-wing protesters in front of Old Nick’s Pub on Oct. 23, 2022. [James Croxton // Double Sided Media]

In response to the smoke grenades and canisters, some members of the crowd pushing the bigots out began throwing rocks — some of which clearly hit their targets in Black Conservative Preacher’s livestream. On that same stream, you can hear other fascists saying “no, Barry , Barry no!” as Barry Johnson Jr. began to pick up rocks and throw them back.

One man, who wasn’t leaving, was pushed down by protesters defending the pub. Lying on the ground, he was soon encircled by EPD officers in riot gear.

At least seven police officers in riot gear form a semi-circle around a man lying on the ground behind them. One officer is holding a less-lethal munition launcher.
EPD officers in riot gear surround a man who was with the bigots protesting in front of Old Nick’s Pub on Oct. 23, 2022. [James Croxton // Double Sided Media]

The bigots’ disorganization was also apparent on that livestream. While retreating to their vehicles, individuals could be heard trying to figure out how they’re going to get out. Unfortunately, one of them dropped their walkie-talkie which was picked up by a pro-drag activist.

Bottom photo is A photograph of my hand holding a walkie talkie. The front has a black plastic case that says 'Arcshell' in white font. There's a long bronze antennae. Top photo is the back side and it's casing is missing. The inside is pretty plain silverish metal with three wires. One red, a short blue, and a black. The bronze antennae can be seen again.
A supporter of the drag event in front of Old Nick’s Pub on Oct. 23, 2022 allowed DSM to photograph a walkie talkie that was left behind by the bigots protesting. [James Croxton // Double Sided Media]

Once the bigots were in their vehicles, the drag event’s defenders positioned themselves at another intersection, behind the pub, in case the anti-drag crowd were to come around the other side. They didn’t.

A half hour-or-so later, there was a straggler: Creswell’s Julie Bivens, who helped organize the non-permitted Fourth of July parade there in 2021 with Proud Boy Chris Tough who, at the time, lived in Cottage Grove.

Driving her Chrysler Town & Country with a large syringe affixed on top and anti-vaxx propaganda plastered in the windows, Bivens drove past the crowd in front of the pub and was hit with several rocks. She then drove to the 105 overpass, parked, and spoke with EPD officers.

A color photo looking up towards an overpass past three tall, mature trees with green foliage. On the overpass, to the right, the top of a Chrysler Town & Country van can be seen with a large makeshift syringe on top. Two of the trees and the EPD Guardian tower can be seen in the middle. To the left, in a break of the foliage, are three individuals on the overpass talking.
Julie Bivens stopped on I-105 in front of EPD officers after having rocks hit her vaccine-topped Chrysler van while she left the protest in front of Old Nick’s Pub on Oct. 23, 2022. [James Croxton // Double Sided Media]

Things outside the pub really eased down after that. Those that had come to defend the Drag Queen Story Time slowly left. That fascists hadn’t come back — yet.

THE BRIEF RETURN

The Drag Queen Story Time event inside was never interrupted and it ended at its scheduled time. Those inside—the families, children, and performers—had no idea what was going on just outside the pub’s exterior walls.

As the afternoon went on, many of those that had gathered outside left. Several stayed in case the anti-drag protesters came back.

Around 5 p.m. a black Toyota FJ Cruiser pulled up to the sidewalk in front of the pub. Three people got out—Audra Price, Richard Elce, and McKenzie River Proud Boys leader Jeffrey Mustin.The driver, Vincent Burroughs, and Cindy Loren stayed in the vehicle. They were quickly repelled by those that had stayed outside, including the Rogue Valley Pepper Shakers, and pub staff.

Five days later, on Oct. 28, the pub hosted their monthly Fetish Night which, naturally, had also received threats. By this time, EPD had removed the Guardian Trailer units. The pub’s phone had been reconnected, only to be disconnected, again because of a flurry of threats. Because it was Halloween weekend, the event also featured a costume contest.

One man wearing a white bodysuit covering his entire head and face, and a Passport-branded beanie—was pointed out as suspicious. He was confronted by Chappell who asked him why he was present. According to her, he said he was “neutral” to the event and just came to check it out and see if it was something he was interested in. Chappell made it clear that anyone “neutral” to far-right extremists and the threats the pub had received had no business being in the space. The man, while protesting that he should receive his cover-charge back, left the space.

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