Renton PD: ‘Potential hate crime’ after taproom vandalized ahead of drag event
The owners of a Renton bar say they plan to continue their monthly ‘Drag Queen Story Time’ this weekend after a man shot into the bar’s window recently.
Marley Rall owns The Brewmaster’s Taproom. It now has a shattered window from a shot from a pellet or BB gun.
Rall believes the incident is connected to the drag queen event they are hosting this weekend.
Sandra Havlik with the Renton Police Department says the incident is being treated “as a potential hate crime.”
The bar partnered with Sylvia, a drag queen, about a year and a half ago.
Brewmaster wanted to put on a family-friendly event to provide an educational and safe space for the community.
According to Rall, this kind of incident is not entirely unusual for them. They often get angry calls and emails when they host similar events, but this month Rall says that a “bunch of alt-right Facebook pages” picked up on the story hour. She says they are legitimately fearful of a protest that is being planned for Saturday’s event.
“My first thought was, well, this is different from any other time,” Rall said. “There are people in the area, it’s not just keyboard warriors that are saying what they need to say and feeling what they need to spew. It’s actual, actual people that are around here.”
The Facebook group that started the protest is called Wakeup Washington, but it has since escalated to being spread around Proud Boys groups.
Using surveillance video from the scene of the crime, a person arrived wearing a mask and gloves in a white or a silver SUV, with unclear license plates.
The event will still be held despite the attack with one slight change, it will be hosted inside instead of on the beer garden patio outside.
“We’ll be moving the kids indoors. You never want to make somebody feel like their hatred is winning, but I also don’t believe that little kids deserve to be subjected to what they’re going to say,” Rall said.
Spike O’Neill, the host of KIRO Nights, talked about the threats online and the possibility of protests the night before the shooting incident occurred. He discussed the rumors that the attacks on the North Carolina electrical substation were a part of a move to shut down a similar Drag Queen Story hour.
“You know, this is a part of a culture that you may not understand or may not be familiar with – may not be comfortable with – I can respect that,” O’Neill said. “There are plenty of elements of culture that are inappropriate for various situations and various audiences. Some drag is inappropriate for audiences of all ages – Drag Story Hour isn’t one of those arts.
“It’s not predatory, it’s not sexualized…those just operating from a position of complete ignorance of the situation, bringing their fears and phobias with them to come after a community that has in recent times been so targeted with violence and hate., more so than at any time in our history.”
Rall says that the idea that the show is sexual is completely false, and invites those that may want to see what the event is actually about to come and attend the event so that they can better understand the culture of drag and the broader community.
“I would invite anybody who feels that way to come and see what story time actually is because that’s a completely false narrative. The only thing that’s going on is there’s a human sitting down in a chair reading an age-appropriate book to between three and six-year-olds.”
Renton Police will be providing extra security for the event due to the nature of the threats.
“We’re gonna take some extra precautions and have some extra police resources on standby,” Havlik said. “We want to let them have their event, and not make our police presence make anybody uncomfortable either. But we’ll definitely be paying attention.”