Controversy over $42k security cost for Drag Queen Story Hour at public library

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One group who protested against Chula Vista's drag queen story time said they were "outraged" over the $42,000 bill to the police department. NBC 7's Alexis Rivas has more. (Published Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2019)

A California city found its own way to dampen free speech after protesters turned out to decry yet another “drag queen story hour,” in which children are exposed as a group to fetishistically dressed men: The city paid $42,000 for disproportionate police presence at the peaceful September protest, and stuck taxpayers with the bill.

The event at Chula Vista Central Library featured two men who like to dress as women, reading children’s books to children and their families. After weeks of protests and criticism, the event went forward as planned on Sept. 10 in front of almost 300 children and the family members who brought them.

“We feel it is important to teach kids how to be themselves and art is definitely a way to do that,” said drag queen Raquelita, being himself under a false, assumed gender and a false, assumed name.

Protesters argued to NBC 7 San Diego it was inappropriate for drag queens to read to children. Those in favor of the event said it was an opportunity to help spread diversity and inclusion.

The organizers of one of the protests, MassResistance, said they planned to publicly call out Chula Vista City Council for the $41,930 paid to the Chula Vista Police Department for increased police presence.

“They should be outraged at themselves and we should send MassResistance the bill,” Councilmember Steve Padilla told NBC 7 in an interview prior to the council meeting, making no secret of where his sympathies lie.

Documents show a whopping 96 police personnel were assigned to the event. Of those 96, 81 people received some amount of overtime ranging from $71 for one hour to $906 for 11.5 hours of overtime. Over $24,000 of the total payments of $42,000 was overtime pay, according to a billing document.

Chula Vista police set up barricades that separated the two sides and officers stood between them while they expressed their views from designated free speech zones.

Tony Mendiola with Mass Resistance claimed their rally was “prayerful, peaceful,” adding had the event been cancelled then they would not have protested.

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