2 arrested as Drag Queen Story Hour protesters target NYC councilman

"This is pure hate," said Councilman Erik Bottcher.

December 20, 2022, 12:10 PM

A protest in New York City against a library Drag Queen Story Hour event spilled over to the apartment building of a city council member, where two demonstrators were arrested after allegedly breaking into the lobby, according to police.

The incident Monday evening unfolded at the Manhattan apartment building of Councilman Erik Bottcher and marked the latest in a string of violent episodes to erupt across the nation over the events in which drag queens read to children.

"This is pure hate, unmasked," Bottcher said in a statement posted on Twitter following Monday's rowdy protest outside his home by a group calling itself "Gays Against Groomers." "If they think this is going to intimidate us, they're mistaken. Our resolve is strengthened."

Demonstrators allegedly scrawled anti-gay slurs and threats on the sidewalk and the front steps of Bottcher's apartment building, accusing him of being a child predator for organizing the Drag Queen Story Hour over the weekend at the Andrew Heiskell Braille and Talking Book Library in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan.

Erik Bottcher attends a ceremony, Dec. 01, 2022 in New York City.
Chance Yeh/Getty Images for Housing Works, FILE

During the demonstration outside Bottcher's home around 5 p.m. Monday, two women allegedly stormed inside the lobby and were quickly arrested by police officers who were on hand monitoring the protest, authorities said.

The women, identified by police as 44-year-old Erica Sanchez and 27-year-old Anna Morgan, were arrested on charges of criminal trespassing and later released on their own recognizance after being issued desk appearance tickets, police said.

The episode at Bottcher's apartment building came after demonstrators earlier Monday defaced the walls and hallway outside the councilman's office in Chelsea, police said. No one was arrested in the incident.

The protests began on Saturday during the Drag Queen Story Hour event at the Heiskell library. Bottcher, who represents the Chelsea neighborhood and attended the story hour session, posted a cellphone video he took of demonstrators holding signs, "STOP THE NONSENSE THERE ARE ONLY 2 GENDERS" and "STOP GROOMING KIDS FOR SEX."

"Today I witnessed pure hatred and bigotry outside Drag Queen Story Hour at a public library in Chelsea," Bottcher tweeted on Saturday. "Inside, I witnessed a loving and peaceful reading of children's books to kids."

After months of far-right and conservative political attacks targeting the LGBTQ community and drag shows, LGBTQ media advocacy group GLAAD found that more than 120 drag shows have reportedly been threatened, protested or attacked in 2022.

Many of the incidents followed the Nov. 19 Colorado Springs shooting, where five people were killed and many more injured when an LGBTQ bar that hosts drag shows was attacked. The alleged perpetrator, Anderson Lee Aldrich, 22, is facing 305 charges, including first-degree murder, attempted murder and bias-motivated crimes.

The Department of Homeland Security issued a warning concerning anti-LGBTQ hate following the shooting, citing a pattern of domestic violent extremists who have conducted attacks and have cited previous attacks as inspiration.

New York City Mayor Eric Adams and some city council members and other New York elected officials have rallied around Bottcher and condemned the incident at the openly gay councilman's home and office.

"This is outrageous. Completely outrageous," Adams said in a tweet to Bottcher. "Erik, you stand up for our city every single day and these cowardly bigots have no place here. Thank you to the NYPD for your quick work and sending the message that this hate will not go unchallenged."

Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-New York, posted a Twitter message, calling the incident at Bottcher's apartment building a "disgusting display of hate."

"Elected officials have a responsibility to condemn this false, dangerous rhetoric that's being used as a new way to discriminate against the (LGBTQ) community," Nadler wrote.

ABC News' Kiara Alfonseca contributed to this report.

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