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Drag Queen Story Hour & The Media Hit Job

Drag Queen Story Hour & The Media Hit Job

Drag Queen Story Hour & The Media Hit Job

by Casey Whalen, North Idaho Exposed

It was a beautiful Saturday at the South Hill Library in Spokane, Washington. I arrived well before Drag Queen Story Hour was due to start. Upon approaching the library grounds I was taken aback by the police presence on scene. East 33rd Ave was closed to the public for the police command center, 2 police cars parked on the sidewalk of South Perry St. with officers standing outside their vehicles, with a yellow ‘DO NOT CROSS’ line stretched across the entire length of the library on South Perry St.

Entering the front doors of the library was a table, perpendicular blocking the path, with 4 crowd management folks searching bags, pockets and running a metal detector device over individuals. Many people made comments such as, they couldn’t believe this was happening at the public library. I entered the main room to find out where the story hour was taking place. There was no indication of where people would gather.

With it being so early and only a few people, I headed back outside to speak with some of those who were gathering for the counter protest by a non-profit named Peace and Justice Action League of Spokane. I did an interview with a member of this group they were extremely nice, polite and informative.

After crossing the street from the library to the protester side, a police officer next to the crosswalk informed me that I could not keep going back and forth across the street. Next, I did an interview with a very nice gentleman, a Christian who was very concerned with the event at the city library this day. While filming I happened to notice not one, but two snipers on the roof of the library, scanning the crowd looking for any signs of trouble. People at this point were showing up for the event, the groups on both sides were shouting at each other. The atmosphere was getting ugly.

After crossing the crosswalk for a second time to exercise press freedom on the counter-protest / Drag Queen Story Hour (DQSH) side, the same officer from earlier told me I couldn’t keep going across the street. Since he could not cite the law that said I couldn’t keep crossing the street, I walked away to where a member of PJALS (counter protest) was voicing her opinion to the protesters. I was literally filming about 10 feet away from her when I was approached by an officer who stated I could not obstruct the sidewalk, even though there were not many people there at that time. I told him I would stand on the grass then, the situation started to escalate at that point, the officer tried to assume I was on a side. I mentioned I exercising the first amendment and he took that to mean, I was on the protest side.

At this point three officers approached, which I continued to protest someone assigning what side or bias I may or may not have with no evidence. A Supervisor named Sgt. K. Vaughn (TAC) insisted they were not infringing on my rights and that I could report on the event from across the street.

Welcome to America, where safety trumps LIBERTY.

After arriving on the protest side which was created by Anna Bohach of 500 Mom Strong, I immediately requested to speak with Sgt. Dave Overhoff the supervisor of the event. It took over an hour for Sgt. Kakuta who was extremely polite and civil and a fine example of a man (even though he violated my rights) to tell me Sgt. Overhoff was really busy and that I could file a complaint with the Spokane Police Ombudsmen. I decided, I was going to insist they honor my rights, walked across the street to the counter protest side and just stood there until finally Sgt. Kakuta decided to go talk to Overhoff about this. In the meanwhile Kakuta was away another officer came up to me and tried to get me to go across the street, I told him I was already being helped.

Not long after, Sgt Kakuta appeared from the crowd and informed me that Sgt. Overhoff agreed with me and that I could take pictures and film, as long as I didn’t put my camera in people’s faces…ah the audacity. Now that liberty was somewhat restored, it was bitter due to the fact that people were being FORCED out of this event. In fact I spoke with multiple attendee’s who stated they wanted to go over to the DQSH / counter-protest side because they wanted to engage them and get an idea of their position they legitimately wanted to understand the other viewpoint and this was not being allowed by the City of Spokane and law enforcement community of Spokane. A few individuals were on the point of tears, that the police asked what side they were on even if the attendee was not sure, this is a tragedy.

As the crowds started to swell on both sides, we took a lot of pictures and film. It was evident there were many more on the counter protest side. There was an element on both sides that were slinging very heavy words at each other, but the majority of people were enjoying themselves and sharing in the activities. A few big names had just arrived on scene such as: Bill Jasper, Senior Editor of the New American Magazine and Rich Loudenback of Inland NW Report. Bill was wearing a tie with a cross on it and Rich was handing out his business cards (on the back states ‘ – totally debunking socialism &’

At this point two ladies appeared, one of who was asking about the cross on Bill’s tie, the other lady was asking about Rich’s handing out business cards and she immediately went to get the police. All day, people had been asking me who I was and who I was with, namely a few librarians. Moments later an officer was asking ‘is this the guy?’ Pointing directly at me with a **** eating grin on his face. She told him no, it’s those two, pointing at Bill and Rich, who were instantly forced across the street. Redoubt News, Shari Dovale and crew were also forced across the street.

Welcome to America, where safety trumps LIBERTY.

The rest of this event was enjoyable and the people were friendly. It’s a shame those without bias were not allowed to have any kind of civil conversation. Everyone should experience an event like this, on both sides. After Drag Queen Story Hour was over, I went back into the library to see where the event was. I could not locate where they had the story hour until I was walking out of the lobby. I noticed a small room that had people and photographers with a sign by the door stating ‘no photo or videos.’ As I approached the entry way to the room, the librarian stated that I could not enter the room but that I could see the next DQSH, next Saturday at the library downtown.

As she turned away, I snapped this picture:

When she heard the ‘click’ of the camera she instantly turned her head and said “NO PICTURES OR VIDEO” and proceeded to grab my camera. At this point I decided to leave because the security guard was getting that weird tyrannical look in his eyes. In sum, this was a healthy event. It’s better for Americans to voice their anger on the streets than to do it through other methods. This is a shame, our law enforcement truly show they have a disconnect between what is legal and lawful.

This event was largely peaceful, I spoke with a legal observer who stated it was. There was 1 arrest Pastor, Afshin Yaghtin of New Covenant Church for obstruction who was later released.


All photo credit to North Idaho Exposed.

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