‘I felt very unsafe’: Parents speak out after Proud Boys show up at children’s library event

Proud Boys in Pine Valley Library near the event room where Pride story time was happening.
Proud Boys in Pine Valley Library near the event room where Pride story time was happening.(Angie Kahney)
Published: Jun. 22, 2022 at 7:39 PM EDT
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - Pine Valley Library was hosting a pride story time event on Tuesday evening when a group of Proud Boys, far-right extremists, showed up outside of the event room.

Emily Jones was there with her 1-year-old daughter, and she says she attends the story time events often at the library.

“I had been talking about it for weeks. I was so happy that the library was having this inclusive environment for us. And it was very disappointing. It was so disappointing to see it unfold the way that it did,” Jones said.

She was particularly excited about this one, but her excitement quickly turned into panic.

“I get it’s a public space, so if people are holding signs outside and they are being peaceful, even if I don’t agree with the things that they are saying, I don’t feel necessarily like my life is in danger. But when a group of known violent people, you know, at that point when those people show up and they’re coming into the library and trying to disrupt the story time. That’s when I felt unsafe and that’s where I felt it was not held appropriately,” Jones said. “And they’re doing that on purpose for sure to intimidate people.”

For context, Jones arrived at the library around 5:15 p.m. on Tuesday, and story time stared at 5:30 p.m. Jones said she only saw a handful of peaceful protestors outside, but not any Proud Boys.

“They were dressed, what I would describe as like, normally,” Jones said. “I didn’t feel threatened by their attire, they were holding signs that said things like, the library is responsible for child abuse, and keep pornography out of our libraries.”

About 45 minutes later, things changed.

“And then I heard some commotion outside. I remember seeing one guy’s face on the glass, and he was glaring at us, and trying to antagonize us. And a group of probably I would say, like maybe six or so others, they kind of paraded down the hall, like they were very clearly trying to antagonize us,” Jones said.

The New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office had deputies at the event to prevent the Proud Boys from entering the room.

Angie Kahney was in the hallway outside of the event room when the Proud Boys walking in and she says the group was loud and disruptive.

But in a statement the sheriff’s office says there was no disturbance.

“They were like yelling obscenities about how their tax money was being spent on pornography and drag queens,” Kahney said. “There was shouting, it was loud. Like their attempt was to intimidate and create a disruption and that’s exactly what they did.”

Jones agreed saying, “they definitely disturbed us.”

The sheriff’s office added because it’s a public place there was no need for the Proud Boys to be removed.

The sheriff’s office declined an on-camera interview, but did release a statement from Sheriff McMahon that reads: “I took an oath not to uphold opinions, but to uphold the law. Which is exactly what my supervisor and Deputies did.”

Jones says even 24 hours later, she still has an uneasy feeling about how the incident panned out.

“It’s so terrifying that they were just able to show up in the middle of an event and come in the library, like that and just walk straight back there to that room that was very scary. I feel very thankful that nothing worse happened, for sure.”

A spokesperson with the county also said in a statement: “The library ensured they had additional staff and volunteers present at the event, and they coordinated ahead of time with the Sheriff’s Office to help ensure the safety of all patrons and staff. There was pre-planning that took place to help ensure the environment inside the event was positive and safe for all attendees.”

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