Gay New York Councilman's Home Targeted by Anti-LGTBQ Mob

Councilman Erik Bottcher's office, and then his apartment, came under attack after he attended a drag queen story hour at a library.
​Images released by Erik Bottcher showing the mob attacking a neighbor and vandalization.
Images released by Erik Bottcher showing the mob attacking a neighbor and vandalization.  

A mob of anti-LGBTQ protesters targeted a gay councilman in New York City at his office and later his apartment building on Monday night, days after he attended a drag queen story hour at a library. 

Councilman Erik Bottcher told VICE News that a group of anti-LGBTQ protesters accessed the building where his district’s office is located in Manhattan, and were banging on the door, jiggling the handle, and shouting, for around 30 minutes while his staff were inside. On their way out, they vandalized the hallway, writing “Bitcher” on the walls. 


Hours later, while Bottcher was at a menorah-lighting ceremony at a synagogue, the mob got into his apartment building. “I looked down at my phone on my way out, and I saw these missed calls from my neighbors,” Bottcher said. “I immediately knew that meant they were at my house, in my building.” 

The group scrawled homophobic slurs on the pavement outside his building saying things like “Bottcher is a pedo child groomer.” Bottcher also shared a video to social media showing the tail end of an altercation between one of his neighbors and the mob. “I hope he will decide to press charges,” Bottcher said. Police arrested two individuals, Erica Sanchez, 44, and D’Anna Morgan, 27, and charged them with trespassing. 

On Saturday, Bottcher attended a drag queen story event at a Chelsea branch of New York Public Library, which was touted as “storytime with local drag performers adapted to be more accessible to kids with autism and other disabilities.”

Around 20 anti-LGBTQ protesters targeted that event. Some held signs saying “stop grooming kids for sex.” One attendee asked Bottcher if he was a “pedophile.” 

Bottcher took a video outside, to show viewers “the face of hate.” One protester held a sign saying “stop grooming kids for sex.” Another asked Bottcher if he was a “pedophile.” 


The attack on that drag event, and on the councilman are just the latest in an ongoing culture war waged by the far-right and egged on by the GOP against any family-friendly entertainment or education containing LGBTQ themes. 

This year, the entire Right — from mainstream GOP to hardline neo-Nazis—coalesced around a shared narrative that claims, baselessly, that exposing kids to LGBTQ themes is tantamount to grooming. This narrative has been used as a smokescreen to justify ongoing attacks against the LGBTQ community—inspiring both legislation and boots-on-the-ground intimidation. 

The deadly consequences of this rhetoric were laid bare last month, when a gunman opened fire on a drag queen’s birthday party at an LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado Springs, killing five people. 

Bottcher described Saturday’s event, and other drag queen story hours, as a “very lovely, rather ordinary, children's program that you would see at any library.” 

“The person reading the books just happens to be an unconventional person,” said Bottcher. “And that is a lesson in itself: that people come in all shapes and sizes, and that’s OK.” 

In New York, a small but dedicated group of roving protesters have menaced drag events across the city for months. 

In September, protesters —many of the same individuals who targeted the event on Saturday—came to protest a drag story hour at an LGBTQ block party in Queens, and faced off with local officials who were in attendance. The following month, drag protesters went to the office of a New York City councilman in Queens and scrawled hateful messages on the sidewalk. 


Earlier this month on Dec. 3, a group of individuals affiliated with the antisemitic group Goyim Defense League and others targeted a drag queen story event at the Lincoln Center in Manhattan, according to freelance videographer Oliya Scootercaster. That same day, around 20 anti-LGBTQ protesters marched through Staten Island to protest a drag story hour there. 

Local antifascists have identified some of the protesters from Saturday’s drag event and one of the arrestees as mainstays of a small culture war battalion who’ve latched onto whatever the issue du jour is in New York City: whether its vaccines, or opposing Black Lives Matter. Morgan, who was arrested for allegedly trespassing Bottcher’s building, was previously charged for criminal mischief in 2020 for defacing a Black Lives Matter mural. 

Bottcher thinks that the GOP bears responsibility for enabling culture warriors and conspiracy theorists. “The GOP has a direct hand in ginning up the unhinged conspiracy theories surrounding this program,” said Bottcher. “This is the latest vessel that they’re using to motivate their supporters on the extreme right. Unfortunately they're putting people’s safety at risk. And people's lives at risk.”


In New York City, a simmering political debate over public spending has also fueled tension surrounding drag queen story events. Many local elected officials, including Mayor Eric Adams, see the community benefit in the event series and support the continued allocation of taxpayer money to the nonprofit organizing them. 

At least one local elected official, Republican Councilwoman Vickie Paladino, has trafficked in far-right rhetoric, referred to “drag queen degeneracy” which is equivalent to “grooming.” She’s also deemed drag story hours as “political, social, and cultural indoctrination of our little children.”

Asked whether Bottcher had heard from his colleague Paladino after he was targeted by a mob at his home, he replied, bluntly, “no.” In response to a question about whether he believes Paladino’s rhetoric is to blame, he replied, “any leader who amplifies this hateful misinformation bears responsibility.”

Mayor Adams called Monday night’s events “outrageous.” 

“Erik, you stand up for our city every single day and these cowardly bigots have no place here,” he wrote on Twitter. 

Overall, Bottcher says he does not fear for his own safety — but views what happened in the recent days as a warning against complacency, even in New York City which has long been considered a haven for the LGBTQ community. “This is a reminder of how much progress we still need to make, we can’t for a moment take the progress we’ve made for granted,” Bottcher said. “Despite the fact that we’ve made so much progress in the last decades, and it really is extraordinary how far we’ve come - we cannot rest for a minute, because hatred exists everywhere, and is looking for a foothold everywhere in all corners of the country.“