WADSWORTH, Ohio — An all-ages event featuring a book reading and a drag performer in a city park drew opposition on Saturday that brought hate groups from around the state to Wadsworth, Ohio.

A Facebook event post by Aaron and Krista Jo Reed of Wadsworth, invited the community to attend the first Rock-n-Roll Drag Queen Story Hour, described as “an epic celebration of life and love and diversity and hope.”

What You Need To Know

  • An event featuring a book reading and a drag performer drew hate groups to Wadsworth, Ohio on Saturday

  • A Wadsworth couple invited the community to attend the first Rock-n-Roll Drag Queen Story Hour

  • A drag queen read “Elle the Humanist,” written by a 9-year-old girl and her father to explain humanism

  • Patriot Front, Proud Boys and a neo-Nazi group faced off with Parasol Patrol, there to protect kids from hate speech

The story hour featured a drag queen reading the book, “Elle the Humanist,” written by Elle Harris, a 9-year-old girl, and her father to answer commonly asked questions about humanism, Reed said. It’s written in terms a child can understand and answers commonly asked questions like “Why don't you go to church?”

The book also describes a fundamental philosophy humanists believe should be applied to everyone — including drag performers.

“In the book, they call it the ‘Platinum Rule,’” Reed said. “Don't treat other people how you want to be treated, treat them how they want to be treated.”

The event posting caught the eye of White Lives Matter of Ohio, Patriot Front, Proud Boys and neo-Nazi group Blood Tribe. The groups arrived at Wadsworth Memorial Park wearing face masks, balaclavas, hoodies and sunglasses, with some open-carrying firearms.

Protestors waved large flags with swastikas, and one group, dressed in red, hoisted a banner reading, “There will be blood.”

The event notice also reached the Parasol Patrol, a Colorado-based group that came town to physically shield young people who attended the event from seeing signs with hateful messages, the group said in an online post.

The Parasol Patrol used its signature large rainbow parasols to fulfill its mission, which is to protect kids’ eyes and ears “from the hateful speech of protesters.”

On Saturday, plenty of hateful speech was captured in video by independent journalist Ford Fischer of News2Share, who drove from the nation’s capital to film the chaos.

Fischer posted several clips on Twitter that depict hate group members screaming profanities at one another and at event attendees, while event supporters screamed back. One man who Fischer filmed aiming a handgun at protestors was arrested.

Fischer’s journalistic focus is “intense political activism,” he said, so he has covered many large clashes over the years, including the deadly “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Va., in 2017, he said, which was intended to pull alt-right factions together.

The Wadsworth footage shows police having to intervene, between event attendees and protestors, and between warring hate groups, as some were angry at the sight of swastikas, Fischer said, but only initially. In end, the aim of the Charlottesville rally was realized in Wadsworth, Fischer said.

Caution: The video in the following tweet contains explicit language. Discretion is advised.

Activist Juan Collado faces off against a hate group at a protest on Saturday in a Wadsworth city park. (News2Share/Ford Fischer)

“It was fascinating because the main takeaway is that it ended up enjoining so many different right-wing factions that would not normally think of themselves as necessarily allied,” he said. “You had Proud Boys, you had families with kids, you had hardcore Neo Nazis, you had Patriot Front. You had all of these different groups who don't consider themselves to be aligned with each other, actually basically aligned with each other on the ground at this specific situation.”

Video shows the hate groups rallying behind the idea that trans people are pedophiles, a label repeatedly shouted at event attendees, along with racial slurs.

Event host Reed referred to the accusations of pedophilia as “the oldest trick in the book.”

“Protect the children, protect the children. It's a human shield for bigotry, just like George Wallace standing on the schoolhouse steps,” he said, referring to the former governor in 1963 blocking the entrance, keeping two African-American students from entering the University of Alabama. “I mean, they just use that and rail on it to excuse their flat-out bigotry.”

Also in attendance on Saturday was a group calling itself “18+ gets rid of us,” which member Kristopher Anderson said is not a racist hate group, but “a village” that wants children under 18 protected from ideology they can’t yet process on their own.

Anderson said 18+ group members do not know one another, and organized for the event online, rallying about 60 people. He said his group was “shocked” when the hate groups arrived in Wadsworth Saturday.

Caution: The video in the following tweet contains explicit language. Discretion is advised.

An online search of 18+ gets rid of us turns up only an association with Project 1711, a new anti-trans hate group.

The group supports Tennessee’s Senate Bill 3, or the Tennessee Drag Ban, passed earlier this month, Anderson said. The measure bans “adult cabaret performances,” including strippers, topless dancers, go-go dancers, male and female impersonators and other performers.

“We want a model bill like that in the legislature and we're really not going to stop doing anything until that happens,” Anderson said.

His group also plans to go after whoever is responsible at the city for issuing the permit to Reed to host the event, he said.

Because weeks of social-media chatter and push back by local politicians made it clear protestors would attend the event, the city issued a permit, Reed said. That enabled a police presence and barriers installed to keep a space between protesters and attendees.

“This is the frontline of the civil rights struggle in our country right now,” Reed said. “Whether we like it or not, the Nazis don't see the difference between a drag queen and the LGBTQ. They don't know that not all drag queens are gay, so they see them as a symbol for their movement.”

Fischer and Reed point to a Drag Brunch on April 1 at the Community Church of Chesterland in Chardon, Ohio as the next likely site for a local clash between hate groups and the LGBTQ+ community.