A march celebrating “straight pride” outside of an abortion clinic in California devolved into violence as participants clashed with more than 200 pro-LGBTQ and pro-choice counter-protesters, according to a report.
The National Straight Pride Coalition, which organized the event, held for the fourth consecutive year in Modesto on Saturday, described its cause as backing heterosexuality, the “natural nuclear family,” Western civilization, Caucasians, Christianity and nationalism.
The handful of straight pride demonstrators was joined by members of the far-right group Proud Boys outside of a Planned Parenthood building ahead of the rally’s start — and were met by counter-protesters draped in rainbow flags and waving signs reading “Fascists not welcome here,” the Modesto Bee reported.
Police officers separated the rally-goers from the opponents across the street, but physical conflict ensued when a Proud Boy attempted to bypass the cops, and counter-protesters retaliated by chucking water bottles, the Bee reported.
A firecracker reportedly went off, setting fire to a bush near the clinic and filling the scene with smoke.
The Modesto Police Department warned on Facebook around 11:17 a.m. local time, that there was “an unlawful assembly of demonstrators along McHenry Avenue” and warned people to stand clear of the area.
Police officers in tactical gear arrived at the assembly to disperse the crowd and clashed with the counter-protesters, firing pepper balls and bean bags.
“We have two armies to go up against when we stand for our rights: We have to deal with the cops attacking us and we’re about to get a second wave of right-wing extremists,” Odette Zapata, a counter-protester from Sacramento, told the Bee. “We’re fearful of them attacking us as well.”
Three people were arrested for “failure to disperse,” including one counter-protesters and two people affiliated with the straight pride rally, police department spokesperson Sharon Bear said, the Bee reported.
The demonstration appeared to be over by 1 p.m. local time, leaving McHenry Avenue littered with trash and debris from the clashes earlier in the day.
A straight pride march organized by the same group last year similarly ended in violence.
At that event, members of the Proud Boys and other supporters of the group once again clashed with counter-protesters outside of the Modesto Planned Parenthood on McHenry Avenue after about an hour of mostly avoiding each other.
Modesto Police and staff from the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department were deployed after a fight broke out and someone used bear spray, the Bee reported, and two people were arrested on misdemeanor charges.
Chiropractor Don Grundmann, founder and director of the group, previously told city council members at a meeting ahead of the first straight pride march in 2019 that his organization was “a totally peacefully racist group,” prompting a deafening roar of laughter and jeering from at least one local pol and many audience members.