Chester Township police call for cancelation of drag event over safety concerns: ‘In order to protect all involved’

Published: Mar. 30, 2023 at 10:11 AM EDT
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CHESTER TOWNSHIP, Ohio (WOIO) - The Chester Township Police Department released a statement Thursday morning recommending the Community Church of Chesterland cancel the drag events they are sponsoring.

The church announced late Thursday morning that the events are still on.

The drag brunch and story hour are scheduled for Saturday, April 1.

Element 41 is set to host the Drag brunch, an age-restricted and ticketed event.

The release says law enforcement officials are making the recommendation due to the potential violence occurring at an event focused on children.

The release says the story hour event being held at the church will have children in attendance.

“As law enforcement officials, we cannot ignore the event coordinators own assessment and concerns for potential violence occurring at an event focused on children,” the release says.

The Community Church of Chesterland posted their own update, saying, “Despite three vile threats from hate groups, we are moving forward and we are confident in our security plan.”

In a joint press release from the church and the restaurant, organizers expressed their disappointment in Chief Craig Young’s decision to make a public statement calling for cancelation without informing organizers of threats being made to the event.

“When our event organizers and our pastor met with law enforcement officials to discuss the status of safety planning, officials couldn’t point to specific, direct threats – or wouldn’t share them. They cited heightened tensions on social media around drag queens and trans issues – something we all live with every day. They cited the concern for violence after the shooting in Nashville. They cited the presence of hate groups, but again – couldn’t point to any direct, specific threats.

Drag Brunch and Story Hour organizers

The organizers ended their letter saying, “Instead of asking us to hide, perhaps [police] could tell the hate groups not to come.”

The church was left vandalized after Molotov cocktails were thrown at the building and the church sign was left broken over the weekend.

Rev. Jess Peacock, the church’s pastor, said they are taking every precaution to keep everyone safe at this weekend’s events.

“One of the things that we are incredibly concerned about with canceling is the message that sends to not only queer people within this county, but what message that sends to the groups that are trying to intimidate us,” Peacock said.

This is not the first drag event to garner attention from protestors and counter-protestors.

A brewery dropped out of hosting a drag story hour in February due to threats being sent to staff.