Protester at children’s library event speaks about why he was there

Protester at children’s library event speaks about why he was there
Published: Jun. 23, 2022 at 5:51 PM EDT
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - Tim Russell is a pastor at a church in Carolina Beach and was protesting the Pride storytime event at Pine Valley Library on Tuesday.

“Our concern was, first and foremost, what was the content of the information being read to the children? And secondly, why did they have it in such a private setting? I know it was in the public library. But if you went inside, you had to register, there were certain requirements that had to be met, if you were allowed in the classroom.”

Russell is working to clear up any confusion-- he says not all of the protesters at the event were associated with the Proud Boys group.

He says he and others have been inspired by Lt. Governor Mark Robinson, who hasn’t been shy speaking out against these types of events.

“The awareness that Mark Robinson has opened up, has really put the Christian society and the Christian group, as far as the ones I associate with, on a higher alert, you know, to be more aware of these things, to make sure that we’re being quote, unquote, watchdogs for our children,” Russell said. “The material that these kids are being presented with is inappropriate in our schools and in our libraries. So, to be one to stand here and to have a discussion with people on the other side and say, ‘Hey, I disagree, and this is why,’ and be kind and gentle, that’s the way it should [be], that’s what a peaceful protest is.”

The Proud Boys released a statement Thursday saying: “Pride events nationally have experienced a shift in focus from celebrating two consenting adults to introducing sexuality to small children. As concerned citizens, we will continue to utilize our first amendment rights to ensure that public events for children are age appropriate. The Cape Fear Proud Boys will never initiate a violent confrontation. Our organization will always operate within the confines of the law.”

They did not address the pepper spray incident outside the library.

As for whether county officials were prepared for this protest, leaders say more work can be done.

The county’s Chief Equity and Diversity Officer, Linda Thompson, says: “I believe planning and forethought went into Tuesday’s event, however after some very helpful conversations with members of the LGBTQ community and others we realize we can always work to improve. My office will be working with library staff and impacted community members to help establish more set guidelines, collaboration, and planning that takes place around county-sponsored events to try and prevent any further negative interactions, as much as we can. The county is always focused on continuous improvement – so that is part of any process or program we have. New Hanover County values every person and we want to ensure our events and programs are welcoming to all.”

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