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A police officer caught high-fiving a white nationalist who was protesting a drag queen storytime event for children in Ohio has been forced to explain his actions to the mother of a gay child.

Columbus Police Sergeant Steven Dyer, who was at the protest as part of the force’s ‘Dialogue Team’, was asked on camera what he was doing greeting one of more than 50 armed members of the far-right group Proud Boys and Patriot Front, in such a friendly and welcoming manner.

‘To build relationships,’ Sergeant Dyer responded cooly.

‘With fascists?’ the incredulous mother questions.

‘I am not supporting their cause, I am not here hanging out with them. I am here to support their right to protest,’ Dyer replies before attempting to explain his actions further.

A police officer was reprimanded by the mother of a gay child after he was spotted hi-fiving a member of a far-right protest group

A police officer was reprimanded by the mother of a gay child after he was spotted hi-fiving a member of a far-right protest group

‘They were talking about my mustache, the guy said I had a good mustache. That is all it is,’ Dyer went on.

‘I am very clear. I am not supporting their cause and you can request my body camera footage,’ Dyer offers. 

‘I can see the optics of it looking that way,’ he continues. ‘Just like when we’re at a homicide scene and somebody tells a joke and you try not to laugh.’

“I hope you’re telling me the truth,’ the mother responds, at which point Dyer announces his name and provides the woman with his business card. 

‘My goal is to facilitate people’s right to protest. I meet all kinds of groups. I am not supporting anybody’s cause,’ he insists.  

Up to 70 members of the Proud Boys and other groups gathered on the sidewalk wearing military garb and carrying rifles and tactical gear on roads leading up to the event

Up to 70 members of the Proud Boys and other groups gathered on the sidewalk wearing military garb and carrying rifles and tactical gear on roads leading up to the event

Men from far right groups Proud Boys and Patriot Front are seen with armed with rifles and body armor

Men from far right groups Proud Boys and Patriot Front are seen with armed with rifles and body armor

A man standing next to Patriot Front protesters shouts across the street at counter-protestors outside of Our Lady of Peace Catholic Church on Saturday morning

A man standing next to Patriot Front protesters shouts across the street at counter-protestors outside of Our Lady of Peace Catholic Church on Saturday morning

Up to 70 members of the Proud Boys and other groups, including Patriot Front gathered on the sidewalk wearing military garb and carrying rifles and tactical gear on roads leading up to the event shouting, chanting and holding signs.

About two dozen people showed up in opposition to the protesters despite a coalition of central Ohio LGBTQ-plus organizations urging people not to attend as counter-protesters, citing the need to protect children, families and the community in a ‘potentially volatile and dangerous’ situation.

The event was to feature three local drag performers reading stories to children of all ages’ and performing a ‘few holiday numbers.’ 

The Red Oak Community School’s ‘Holi-Drag Storytime’ said last month that the events promote values such as love, kindness and inclusivity in children and prevent future bullying. They also help to ‘normalize and celebrate the beautiful diversity of the gender spectrum that is now and has always been, a natural part of the human experience.’

A Proud Boy approaches a counter-protestor using a megaphone outside the venue. The event was canceled due to safety concerns, the school said on social media

A Proud Boy approaches a counter-protestor using a megaphone outside the venue. The event was canceled due to safety concerns, the school said on social media

The school ‘sold almost 1,000 tickets’ for the $10 event and raised more than $5,000 for a local LGBTQ-plus charity.

But soon after the event had been made public, the Ohio Chapter of the Proud Boys last month announced plans to also attend and protest outside the venue. 

The school says an internal dispute over security prompted a last-minute cancellation of a children’s storytelling event featuring performers in drag amid the protest.

School manager Cheryl Ryan said Saturday morning that the cancellation was prompted by an internal disagreement ‘about how this community could be best protected.’ 

In an often-emotional speech from the decorated stage where the event was to have been held, she spoke of repeated efforts to secure police protection along with the discomfort with law enforcement felt by a ‘community defense team’ that had volunteered to help provide security.

The unit in which Dyer serves, the Columbus Police Dialogue Team, consists of several officers that work to help navigate community situations when people are exercising their first amendment rights

The unit in which Dyer serves, the Columbus Police Dialogue Team, consists of several officers that work to help navigate community situations when people are exercising their first amendment rights

‘In the end, our performers felt unsafe without a police presence while our safety team felt unsafe with a police presence,’ Ryan said. ‘So it turns out our biggest problem wasn’t the Proud Boys after all.’

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The unit in which Dyer serves, the Columbus Police Dialogue Team, consists of several officers that work to help navigate community situations when people are exercising their first amendment rights.

This team was formed following the protests of 2020 that occurred following the death of George Floyd. 

While wearing blue vests, the police say they hope to build trust through proactive dialogue and engagement with the community.

The Columbus Police released a statement as to their involvement and the reasons as to why the school decided to cancel the drag queen event

The Columbus Police released a statement as to their involvement and the reasons as to why the school decided to cancel the drag queen event

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