‘Straight Pride’ Goons Battled Activists Outside Planned Parenthood

Roughly 30 “straight pride” supporters clashed with more than 100 counterprotesters, leading to some fighting.
‘Straight Pride’ Goons Battled Activists Outside Planned Parenthood
Sheriff's deputies try and clear the area around the Planned Parenthood office on McHenry Ave during an opposition rally that began as a protest to the Straight Pride event in Modesto, Calif., on Saturday, Aug. 27, 2022. (Andy Alfaro/The Modesto Bee via AP)

A “straight pride” event turned violent as protesters and counterprotesters skirmished in front of a Planned Parenthood clinic in Modesto, California, on Saturday. 

The roughly 30 “straight pride” supporters clashed with more than 100 counterprotesters in front of Planned Parenthood, leading to some fighting, according to reports from The Modesto Bee and the Guardian. In a video posted to social media, a shrub appears to catch fire after an apparent smoke bomb was set off. 

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The group behind the “straight pride” event, the National Straight Pride Coalition, bills itself as a Christian group fighting the forces of LGBTQ+ rights and abortion rights, among other things. On its website, the group reserves particular ire for Planned Parenthood, which it accuses of perpetuating the mass murder of Black people—a common narrative among anti-abortion activists, whose far-right fringe also simultaneously claims that abortion leads to the genocide of white people. 

The “straight pride” event had technically been scheduled to start at noon, but the counterprotesters showed up first, a police spokesperson told the Los Angeles Times. They carried signs championing LGBTQ+ and women’s rights, the Modesto Bee reported. One told the newspaper that she showed up to combat “the increase in white supremacy and hatred in our country.”

At around 11:30 a.m. local time, the Modesto Police Department warned on Facebook of an “unlawful assembly of demonstrators” and closed a local street. 

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Police in tactical gear used bean bag guns and fired pepper-spray bullets at the groups, the Modesto Bee reported. Two people were injured and four detained, although three were ultimately arrested as of Saturday for “failure to disperse,” a police spokesperson told The Bee.

“They came at us with batons, they jabbed us, they hit the crap out of out us [sic],” one counterprotester told the newspaper through wheezes.

By mid-afternoon, the police department announced that the street was back open.

“Crowds demonstrating for opposing groups have dispersed,” the police said.

On Saturday, Modesto City Council Member Chris Ricci condemned the event.

“Straight pride's hateful bile is a disgrace and the event today is a black mark on our community,” he tweeted.

This isn’t the first event held by the National Straight Pride Coalition. In 2019, the man behind the group tried to defend a similar “straight pride” event for that year by telling the Modesto City CCouncil that his organization was a “totally peaceful racist group.”

“You attacked us as ‘racist.’ You pulled the race card to pull in attacks against us, to justify attacks against us in that park, and when they come you're going to turn right around and say we deserved it,” Don Grundmann said, in a video posted by the Modesto Bee at the time. “We haven't done anything. We’re a totally peaceful racist group.”