Report from the UPSantifa Collective discusses a recent community mobilization against a far-Right anti-trans organizer.
On November 24, 2019, SodIP posted on their twitter that the 27th District Republican Virginia Taylor Club and Republican Women of Pierce County were planning on having Lynn Meagher speak at their monthly meeting about losing her children to the so-called “trans cult” (here’s an article she worked on).
We felt that this speaker was an active threat to our community and believe it was necessary to try to get them de-platformed. In the past, this woman was forcibly removed from a library by police for filming and disrupting Drag Queen Story Hour, as well as bringing armed alt-right militia members. Details can be found here. It was decided that the best course of action would be a call-in campaign to show the Tacoma community’s discontent. It read:
“Hi my name is ________
I am calling because I am deeply concerned about the Virginia Taylor Republican Club meeting that will be happening at your restaurant on Monday night. Their invited speaker Lynn Meagher is an anti-trans activist. This is an excuse to promote hatred and normalize violence against trans people. This is a mockery of real activism and I hope you will do the right thing and cancel this event. If this event is not canceled we will be forced to boycott your restaurant and show up in protest of this event.
Have a good day.”
We started by posting the call-in campaign on Twitter, and later that night we put up posters around Knapp’s to drum up more support (poster can be found here). The response we got from the community was amazing. Both the call-in campaign and the poster got shared all over social media, with people calling the restaurant and some going to talk to the staff the next day. Pretty soon the 27th District Republicans removed the transphobic speaker, Lynn Meagher from their Facebook event, (evidence here). Since we had announced an event, we turned the protest into a rally to celebrate the trans community.
Later on, we were informed that the whole meeting was canceled, (click here to see the event cancelation). Regardless of the motivation for this, we are glad to see local businesses refusing to platform transphobia. Soon after, Knapp’s issued a public statement condemning the event which can be seen here. This led to us canceling our event, due to the belief that the 27th District Republicans had canceled theirs.
A couple of hours later, we were informed that the speaker and the 27th District Republicans had moved their event to a nearby pizza place. With an hour to spare, we called on people to show up and/or call the restaurant.
When several members of our collective and around 5 other non-affiliated activists got to the restaurant at 6:15, there was no sign of the 27th District Republicans. We thought that we had lost them, until one activist went into the pizza place to ask around. He was tipped off by one of the 27th District Republicans that the new meeting was at Joeseppi’s but to be careful because there were “leftists afoot.” With our newly acquired intel, we went to Joeseppi’s.
When we arrived at the new location, we attempted to explain to the owner why they should not allow the 27th District Republicans in their restaurant. After we failed to convince the owners, we defaulted to protesting outside the windows of the restaurant. Other activists posted that the event’s location had switched once again, (that can be seen here).
The 27th District Republicans and anti-trans “activists” could see us through the window, waving trans flags and signs, and singing copyrighted music so that any recordings of their event would be taken down if they were posted online. This resulted in one of the owners calling the police on us and threatening one of the protestors physically. However, after overhearing what Lynn Meagher was saying, the owner came around to some degree. He agreed to let us protest, called the cops off, and apologized to us saying that he would have an official apology up by tomorrow on Facebook (that can be seen here). He also informed us that someone in the meeting offered to call some “private armed security” which we believe to be an Alt-Right militia.
The final part of the night was our confrontation with the 27th District Republicans, which went about as could be expected. We continued to play copyrighted music and wave trans pride flags and signs around until they finished. Then we moved to the entrance and proceeded to shame the people for attending the talk. Two walked out looking like they wanted a fight, and when one of them was questioned about the event, he proceeded to shout and push two activists out of his way.
As the rest of the people attending the talk began to file out, they were met with questions from the pro-trans rally. Most of them walked away, unwilling to discuss their beliefs, while two others decided to have a dialogue. One of the men, Kyle Paskewitz, who previously unsuccessfully ran for office in the Washington State House of Representative, was demolished as he tried to debate an activist from UPSantifa. The other guy continued to throw out the same talking points over and over again, and of course was also destroyed by simple logic, until the remaining activists from UPSantifa decided to head out. Sometime in the middle of the debates, a woman got into her car and backed up very fast in an attempt to intimidate us. Getting no reaction, she drove swiftly away.
Overall, the event went much better than we expected it would due to the changing locations and short notice. By the end of it, we had around 20 dedicated activists who showed up to protest with only a day’s notice and a bunch of location and time switches. By Monday, we got an apology from Joeseppi’s, which can be found here. All in all, we are content with what went down and hope that this hateful, uninformed rhetoric stops, or will at least be met with resistance and support for the trans community wherever it goes.