Man Arrested, Protesters Clash at New York Attorney General Letitia James-Hosted ‘Drag Story Hour’

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Elected Leaders Attend A Drag Story Hour Read-A-Thon Held In New York City - Credit: Stephanie Keith/Getty Images
Elected Leaders Attend A Drag Story Hour Read-A-Thon Held In New York City - Credit: Stephanie Keith/Getty Images

A man was arrested outside “Drag Story Hour NYC” hosted by New York Attorney General Letitia James on Sunday following a clash between more than 100 protesters, New York Post reports. DSH holds events where storytellers use “the art of drag to read books to kids in libraries, schools and bookstores,” according to the non-profit’s website.

On Sunday, a DSH event took place at The Center, an LGBTQ+ community center on West 13th Street, where video footage shows a man in a gold mask being arrested outside after protesters purportedly clashed over drag performers reading stories to kids, and tax dollars helping fund the event. The man who was arrested was described by police via New York Post as an “anti-drag protester (who was) arrested for assaulting a pro-drag agitator.”

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An officer from NYPD’s Deputy Commissioner of Public Information’s office tells Rolling Stone the man who was arrested is 53-year-old Robert Porco. Porco has been charged with one count of assault. The officer could not confirm whether the suspect was for or against the event. The officer said no other arrests were made in connection to the event.

Video appearing to be filmed from outside the event depicts at least one person wearing a far-right Proud Boys sweatshirt who was in attendance and was told to “get the fuck out of here” by opposing protesters. The man was joined by another, who appeared to have blood on his face as he walked away from the crowd who supported the event.

While video footage outside of the event depicted the clash between opposing protesters, a photo shared by James on Twitter from inside The Center showcased families with children intently engaged in the storytelling taking place.

Anti-LGBTQ+ bills, such as the Tennessee drag ban and laws that limit trans healthcare, have been on the rise, underscoring the importance of supportive events like Drag Story Hour. Similar family-oriented events have been canceled around the country due to threats from anti-LGBTQ groups such as the Proud Boys. As New York Daily News notes, the Morrisania Library in the Bronx nixed its scheduled show in September featuring teenage drag artist Desmond Napoles after they received violent threats.

In a statement from the attorney general’s office Sunday to The New York Post, James said the intention of the event was “to condemn hate and combat rampant disinformation.”

“The recent rise in anti-LGBTQ+ protests, rhetoric, and policies has left New Yorkers — myself included — devastated and disappointed,” James said. “But I know better than anyone that when the choice is between love and hate, between joy and venom, New Yorkers will always choose love, and New Yorkers will always choose joy.”

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