San Diego

Controversy Over $42,000 in Security Costs for Chula Vista Drag Queen Happy Hour

"If an out of town hate group decides not to continue to try to organize protests, then that might reduce costs in the future," Padilla added.

Opponents of a Chula Vista library’s “Drag Queen Storytime” said they were outraged over the nearly $42,000 paid to Chula Vista Police Department to manage protesters at the September event.

The event at Chula Vista Central Library featured two drag queens reading children’s books to kids and their families. After weeks of protests and criticism, the event went forward as planned on Sept. 10 in front of almost 300 children and their families who generally had positive responses. 

“We feel it is important to teach kids how to be themselves and art is definitely a way to do that,” drag queen Raquelita said.

While the reading event was positive and tranquil inside, hundreds of protesters shouted at each other outside of the library. Protesters argued it was inappropriate for drag queens to read to children. Those in favor of the event said it was an opportunity to help spread diversity and inclusion.

NBC 7’s Artie Ojeda reports from an event drawing a lot of emotion this week. Hundreds of protestors for and against a ‘Drag Queen Story Time’ lined the streets outside of a Chula Vista public library.

The same folks who organized one of the protests against the book reading, MassResistance, said they planned on publicly calling out Chula Vista City Council Tuesday for the $41,930 paid to the Chula Vista Police Department for increased police presence.

"They should be outraged at themselves and we should send MassResistance the bill," Councilmember Steve Padilla told NBC 7 in an interview prior to the council meeting.

Documents show 96 personnel were assigned to the storytime event. Of those 96, 81 people received some amount of overtime ranging from $71 for one hour to $906 for 11.5 hours of overtime. Over $24,000 of the total payments of $42,000 was overtime pay, according to a billing document.

Chula Vista police set up barricades that separated the two sides and officers stood between them while they expressed their views from designated free speech zones.

Padilla said the conservative group "riled people up" and that's what necessitated the increased police presence.

Tony Mendiola with Mass Resistance claimed their rally was "prayerful, peaceful," adding had the event been cancelled then they would not have protested.

In addition to expressing anger at the added public cost of policing the Drag Queen Story Hour, members of MassResistance planed to ask the Chula Vista City Council to pass an ordinance prohibiting drag queen story hours.

"It's not about whether or not we have the event. We don't cancel events or create our programs based on the personal religious beliefs or any one group over another," Padilla said.

The city of Chula Vista said parents have to specifically sign up for their children to participate in the readings. It's a choice each family makes on their own.

"If an out of town hate group decides not to continue to try to organize protests, then that might reduce costs in the future," Padilla said.

The Southern Poverty law Center told NBC 7 that MassResistance, as a national organization, is an "anti-LGBT hate group" whose president links trans women to sexual predators.

The highly protested and much anticipated "Drag Queen Story Time" event finally kicked off today at the Chula Vista Public Library. NBC7's Catherine Garcia and Mark Mullen take a closer look in the Nightly Check-In for September 10th.

“We try to respect everyone's belief system and again this is about the fact that all of our libraries are open to everyone. Whether you believe in the event or you don't, it's your library. And it's just as much the taxpaying citizens who went to the event as it was the people who opposed it," Padilla added.

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