On Saturday afternoon, July 29th, 2023, an armed self-described Nazi group protested at the entrance of Watertown Pride, the town’s second annual pride event that featured, among other events, drag performances by local queens. The group, who call themselves Blood Tribe and who showed up wearing black shirts, khaki pants, black balaclavas, and many of whom were armed, shouted slurs and threats to those entering the event, at some points even threatening to lynch the LGBTQ community, whom they regard as “pedos.” They also waved black flags with the swastika symbol, and some wore go-pros on their heads, a tactic many on the right use when they are purposefully pushing the limits of offense. They want someone to get upset enough to fight back, for them to film as proof of “liberal aggression.” The Anti-Defamation League describes Blood Tribe as “a neo-Nazi group with semi-autonomous chapters in the United States and Canada. Blood Tribe promotes hardline white supremacist views and openly directs its vitriol at Jews, ‘non-whites’ and the LGBTQ+ community.”
Operation Save America tries to claim moral high ground against Blood Tribe while both were protesting Watertown Pride in the Park in Wisconsin today. Spoiler, both sides are terrible. Nazis are worse, but OSA were the ones that got arrested for being a bigger pain in the ass. pic.twitter.com/Xvi72oO7fR
— Endora (@EndoraData) July 29, 2023
While disappointing and enraging, this protest is not wholly unexpected, as the Watertown city council meeting regarding the 2022 event was an hour and a half long meeting dominated by the comments of people who espouse anti LGBTQ rhetoric and believe the far right’s narrative about grooming behavior, especially when it comes to drag performances. While no such laws have been passed yet in Wisconsin, several state legislatures around the country either have passed or are working to pass bans on public drag shows, especially family friendly ones geared towards children, stoking the unfounded fear amongst the right that these shows are something to fear and are sexually explicit.
Pride in the Park, the pride event put on by Unity Project of Watertown, a group who, according to the Watertown Daily Times, is a “local LGBTQ which stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer/questioning organization working to spread inclusivity throughout the Watertown community,” was supposed to be bigger and better than ever this year. Last year, Trent Kangas, the main organizer of the event, estimated that the event brought in 300-500 people, he told the WDTimes. This year’s event was supposed to be even bigger, with the organization renting the entire park to allow for more stages, easier access to bathrooms, and more events for children and families. While the event still went on as planned, the hate group soured the experience for many, and served as a reminder of why we still need pride celebrations in the first place.