The head of the National Straight Pride Coalition accidentally called his organization a “totally peaceful racist group” to laughter from those gathered at a California city council meeting on Wednesday night.
The laughter was so loud that Don Grundmann couldn’t audibly correct himself, even though he was speaking into a microphone.
Videos posted by outlets present for the meeting show Grundmann pleading his case to hold a “straight pride” event at an amphitheater in a residential park in Modesto. Thomas Reeves, a spokesperson for the city manager’s office, told USA TODAY the event application is still being considered.
“We’re still working on a few items related to our normal due diligence relating to these types of applications,” he said.
At one point, Grundmann called out city council member Kristi Ah You, who has been an especially vocal opponent of the event, saying she “pulled the race card.”
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“You attacked us as racists,” Grundmann said, pointing at Ah You while the crowd behind him began growing restless. “You pulled the race card to justify attacks against us in that park. When they come, you’re going to turn right around and say we deserved it.
“We haven’t done anything. We’re a totally peaceful racist group.”
Immediately, Ah You can be seen laughing, along with a good portion of the audience, and pushing herself away from her microphone.
In a Thursday interview with USA TODAY, Grundmann said calling his own group “racist” was an accident and that the Modesto City Council is “working overtime” to find a way to stop the event. He said he expects his “first amending rights to be respected.”
“We’re being viciously smeared and lied about that we’re racists,” he said.
Grundmann said he views Planned Parenthood as “the main source of racism in our nation.”
“Our culture is under attack on multiple fronts, such as just being men. There’s so-called toxic masculinity. There’s actually college courses being taught that men are an inherent problem, there’s something wrong with them,” he said. “We’re saying that it’s OK to be a man. It’s OK to be a woman. It’s OK to have a natural family, a man, woman and children.”
He added, “It’s OK to be white.”
Reeves told USA TODAY the application is still being reviewed and there are “major safety concerns.” The council hopes to make a decision within the next day or two, he said.
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According to a flyer posted on Facebook, the event is scheduled for Aug. 24.
Reeves added First Amendment experts with the council’s legal team have been consulted regarding the application.
“The law is quite clear when it comes to the First Amendment,” Reeves said. “You better believe that we have been ensuring that we are within the confines of the law and not straying outside of it.”
Should the event be approved by the city council, Reeves said that doesn’t mean the council is endorsing the “positions made by any of the speakers.”
Still, safety — both for those attending the event and anyone who might show up in protest — is a concern. Reeves said if the event can’t safely be held in the location organizers have requested, the city would ask organizers to find a new location.
The National Straight Pride Coalition’s event isn’t the first of it’s kind. A “straight pride” parade was approved in Boston for Aug. 31.
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