Canadian Anti-Hate Network
A reading event for children featuring a drag performer faced interruptions as multiple individuals entered a library presentation room to disrupt the event. From calls to repent to a brief physical altercation, this is the latest in a series of actions from those equating family-friendly drag performances with pedophilia and moral decay.
On Saturday, February 25, a crowd of parents and children gathered in a small room for “Reading with Royalty,” a family-friendly event featuring drag performers reading books to children.
The plan for the day was a program made up of singing, reading, and fun. At around 11:15 am, according to a representative from the Calgary Police Service, library patrons report several individuals entering the room holding the event, causing a disturbance, and then refusing to leave the building.
Many drag events intended for adults take place in age-restricted venues and do feature sexualized performances and themes. Family-friendly drag events feature performers in colourful costumes and high-energy performances that are suitable for children.
“Upon arrival, officers spoke with protestors, who agreed to leave the facility,” police told the Canadian Anti-Hate Network. “Following the altercation, officers remained on scene to ensure public safety and gather additional evidence.”
The CPS’ Hate Crimes Coordinator is allegedly reviewing the case to determine if any individual’s actions met the threshold to be considered a hate-motivated crime.
“We recognize that whether or not the actions of protestors meet the threshold for a criminal charge, they cause harm to our community, and we are committed to working with event organizers to ensure that drag events in Calgary remain a safe space for all attendees.”
Video from inside the event shows part of the altercations with one of the individuals, identified as Derek Reimer. Reimar is a street preacher and regular fixture on the city’s protest circuit. Gloating on his Facebook page after three similar events that were cancelled due to the negative response, he organizes and attends protests throughout the region.
At the library, the video starts moments before Reimer is forcibly removed from the room by several attendees. As his compatriots hover around, recording and commenting, Reimer is shoved through the door and falls to the ground.
Standing up, he ignores calls from staff to leave and paces outside the room’s windows.
“Homosexuality is wrong,” he says. “Homosexuality is a sin.”
On February 10, Reimer posted to his Facebook, delighted that “two drag queen events are cancelled this weekend due to a fear of our planned protest.” Nine days later he was bragging about a third cancellation.
“We’re just getting started.”
Reimer, when reached for comment, told CAHN he went to the event to expose wickedness and perversion.
“I came on a mission to expose, rebuke, and preach the gospel,” he said over the phone. “A few of us got into the reading room. We all took turns speaking against it. When I went in there I kept speaking and rebuking and they threw me out.”
Reimer adds he hit his head on the door during his fall to the ground and that he has been made aware of a “hate crime investigation” against him. Undeterred, he says there are no plans to stop.
“You’re getting more organized and so are we.”
After contacting Reimer for this article, he posted a video to his Facebook page on Wednesday morning showing a man identifying himself as a police officer visiting Reimer’s residence. According to the man, the pastor will be charged with mischief and causing a disturbance later in the day.
We have reached out to the Calgary Police Service for confirmation and will update accordingly.
In response to the events at the library, Calgary Mayor Jyoti Gondek said there are “no more excuses.”
“I’ll be unpacking all the ‘reasons’ why enforcement teams and the crown feel the street harassment bylaw and other existing bylaws/legislation are not strong enough to charge demonstrators who spread vile lies and hatred in public,” Gondek wrote on Twitter. “And then I’ll be pushing for more.”
"Get used to it Calgary.”
Maria L, who asked to be identified only by a first name and initial, arrived with her two children just before the event began. Initially scheduled to take place in the library’s main room, participants were led to a presentation room with large glass windows looking out into the library.
“The event started with a couple of songs and then one of the presenters started to read. I believe that it was at some point during this first story that a woman with curly blond-ish brown hair in a blue jacket or sweater came in and yelled ‘hey parents, do you know what you are exposing your children to?’”
When another parent in the room replied, “love and joy,” Maria told the Canadian Anti-Hate Network, a handful of adults at the back of the room quickly surrounded the protester to usher them out the door.
Shortly after, a man she identified as Mathew Tucker entered the room repeatedly yelling, “Repent to Jesus” before other adults escorted him out. Another parent attending the event also says they believe the second individual was Tucker.
“I was still sitting on the rug with my daughter and saw a couple babies burst into tears,” Maria said. “I believe around this time their parents decided to leave the event because they didn’t feel safe. I heard one of the female guardians who was holding a baby say something like ‘let’s go, it’s not safe here.’”
At this point in the event, the performer had only managed to get through a few songs and began reading their second story. This is when witnesses say things got more aggressive.
“A man with a GoPro strapped to his chest, who I know now is Derek Reimer, came in and snaked along the room eventually getting cornered,” said a parent who did not wish to be named. “Yelling that all the parents/caregivers should be ashamed etc. He was then pushed out along the wall, which immediately precedes the video of him getting thrown out of the room.”
Reimer can be seen struggling to remain inside the space, including by latching onto the door handle. He is eventually pushed through the door by several attendees. Falling to the ground, he says it is “abusive in there.”
After being ejected, Reimer continued looking in through the windows, but children and parents report being unable to hear him.
“Many children started crying during the commotion and some families opted to leave out of concern for their safety,” the parent said.
“It took five or six adults to surround him and almost physically drag him out of the room," Maria said about Reimer. “There was a bit of a physical alteration resulting in his fall out the door.”
She echoes that several children were “crying and visibly shaken” and that “Derek continued his rant outside of the room, at one point tapping on the back glass wall.”
Other parents stayed near the door to ensure that no one else could reenter the room. Both witnesses report families leaving due to the commotion.
Library staff inform Reimer they have called the police, though it is not until an officer arrives that he and others leave the area.
“We’ll be back, we do this weekly,” Reimer yells while he talks away. “We’ll be back at your next venues, to disrupt these, to shut these down. Three cancelled drag events in eight days. Get used to it Calgary.”