Apparent neo-Nazi group protests drag brunch; Columbus city, LGBTQ+ leaders react

Columbus city leaders and LGBTQ+ activists denounced the actions of an alleged neo-Nazi group that protested a drag brunch Saturday.

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A brunch to support Kaleidoscope Ohio and LGBTQ+ youth in the community was scheduled to take place at the Land Grant Brewing Company on West Town Street, WCPO reported. During this time, a group of 15 to 20 wearing red shirts and black pants, waiving swastika flags, and gesturing the Nazi salute appeared as part of a demonstration.

“While their ‘speech’ is protected by the Constitution, they do not have the right to threaten, intimidate or harm others,” Mayor Andrew Ginther said. The “vile and offensive out-of-state hate group” does not represent the community.

“LGBTQ+ kids & families shouldn’t have to deal with obscene hate from literal Nazis,” City Council President Shannon Hardin stated. “While @ColumbusCouncil has an existing budget earmark for @KYCOhio, I’m donating today to support the great work they do & show that our community stands with KYC and the community they serve.”

While city officials denounced the apparent neo-Nazis’ efforts, organization leaders were more taken aback.

“It took us back a bit to see that,” Executive Director of Kaleidoscope Youth Center Erin Upchurch said. “Instead of creating space for expansion and understanding, they just want to eradicate it.”

Despite the stance that the neo-Nazis took, the community leader thanked authorities who “made sure our love and affirmation” ringed much louder, Upchurch said.

“Thanks to Columbus Division of Police who ensured the show was uninterrupted and everyone stayed safe. Thanks to the performers, including Virginia West, for their courage and commitment to love and acceptance over divisiveness and hate,” Ginther said.