by Robert J Hansen
Woodland, CA – A drag show planned at Mojo’s Lounge & Kitchen428 Restaurant in Woodland was disrupted by Sacramento Proud Boys last Thursday.
The Woodland Police Department could have done more to protect the LGBTQ community by not allowing the Proud Boys to enter the bar, according to Mojo’s owner Christy Hayes.
“They (Proud Boys) were pushing up in the doorway and asking how many kids are in there,” Hayes said.
Hayes said the police should not have let the Proud Boys reach the door.
In a video that can be seen below, pepper spray is seen being deployed from inside the business.
“I don’t know how they were able to walk down the alleys unstopped, walk down the street unstopped,” Hayes said.
Hayes said the restaurant was full and that some families with children were visibly scared once the Proud Boys started to come in the bar and after the pepper spray was deployed.
The bar and restaurant have separate entrances and are separate business areas. They are connected by a doorway which was closed off the night of the event according to Hayes.
No children were in the bar that night.
“I definitely saw some scared kids,” Hayes said. “After the initial attack the cops made a barricade around us.”
Hayes said police helped people out of the back of the restaurant and to their cars.
Woodland PD told Hayes, who had been communicating with the police since June 8, that there would be extra officers assigned to patrol around her building for the event because of threats made online.
The originally planned event was canceled because the performers felt threatened according to Hayes, but the small performance of two or three people did go on for about 30 minutes.
“That’s what I was worried about because I had seen in San Francisco, the library that got disrupted,” Hayes said. “I just didn’t want any local people to be inspired by that and I didn’t want any Proud Boys to show up.”
NorCal Resist posted on its Instagram that Proud Boys were planning to disrupt the event a couple days before.
NorCal Resist is an organization focused on fighting oppression and empowering our communities through shared resources and support according to its website.
“The guys just popped up out of nowhere,” Hayes said
According to a statement by the Woodland PD, it assigned foot patrol officers downtown near Mojo’s Lounge after the business received threats on social media in response to their planned drag show.
“Several people showed up and were disruptive while making derogatory comments about the event and the LGBTQIA+ community,” a statement by police said. “At one point there was an altercation at the door of the establishment which Woodland PD officers de-escalated.”
Woodland Chief Derrek Kaff released a statement the day after the incident after community members voiced their dissatisfaction with the police department’s response.
“I’m very disturbed and angry that Mojo’s faced intimidation online and felt the need to cancel the positive event,” Kaff said. “Mojo’s made us aware of their concerns and in response, we began to investigate the origin of each threat posted online and that investigation is ongoing.”
Kaff said his department supports the LGBTQIA community but did not address why the Proud Boys were allowed to reach the door.
Marissa Barrera, whose brother Michael Barrera was killed by Woodland police officers in 2017, said the police did not do everything it could to protect the LGBTQ community.
“Based on what I saw in the video, absolutely not,” Barrera said. “And I wonder how it would be if it were the other way around.”
Barrera said since the police knew of the threat that their actions did not seem concerned about preventing crime and they allowed it to happen.
“The fact that they did have prior knowledge that something would happen and that those people were able to stay there and do that, they looked pretty comfortable doing so in front of police,” Barrera said.
Police said no arrests have been made at this time.
“Right now, Woodland PD investigators are reviewing surveillance videos, following up on leads, and working with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to determine who made the threats,” police said.
“Okay, a lot of discussion on what charges should be filed. Bottom line is these men/boys were trespassing and should have been taken into custody.” Lupe Zendejas said on Facebook. “It’s up to [the] DA to decide what charges to be made based on evidence.”
Hayes also said that Woodland Mayor Mayra Vega and Councilmember Victoria Fernandez were at Mojo’s during the incident.
The Vanguard has yet to reach out to Mayor Vega and Councilmember Fernandez for comment.