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Violence erupts between anti-LGBTQ extremists and anti-fascist counter protestors at Pride event

Violence erupts between anti-LGBTQ extremists and anti-fascist counter protestors at Pride event
Chris ReyesPhoto: Screenshot/News to Share

Protests outside an LGBTQ Pride event in Riverside, California erupted into violence on Sunday, leading to the arrest of at least one local far-right extremist.

The Inland Empire Pride Festival, held inside the Riverside Municipal Auditorium, was organized by local group Riverside LGBTQ+ Pride and was reportedly the first local Pride event since 2009. Inside the venue, the event featured live music, entertainment, dancing, panel discussions, information on the history of the LGBTQ community, and a youth program, according to The Press-Enterprise.

Outside, however, anti-LGBTQ protesters, led by local extremist Chris Reyes, clashed with local anti-fascist counter protesters. Video posted on YouTube by News2Share shows protesters, including Reyes, brawling on the street in front of the auditorium. The anti-LGBTQ protesters can be seen holding signs and banners with messages like, “No disgusting pedos/groomers” and “Pedophilia is not a sexual orientation.”

One particularly bellicose protester even seems to identify himself as gay while hurling profanity and slurs at festival attendees.

Reyes, who was reportedly an organizer of July’s far-right “Freedom Fest” in Phoenix, Arizona, and attended the “Stop the Steal” rally leading to the January 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol, was arrested following the fight. According to News2Share’s Ford Fischer, Reyes was later released.

Opposition on social media prior to Riverside’s Inland Empire Pride Festival led local police to increase security around the event.

The Riverside festival was just the latest Pride event to attract far-right protesters in recent months. Family friendly events like drag story hours at local libraries have been a particular target for groups like the Proud Boys.

In June, dozens of members of the white supremacist group Patriot Front were arrested on their way to disrupt an Idaho Pride event. According to a study by The Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED), incidents of political violence targeting the LGBTQ community this year have already exceeded the total number of attacks reported in 2021.

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