Group of out-of-town protestors descend on Florence

A majority of the protestors on April 29 wore masks making it difficult to determine who they were or where they were from. When asked why they were masked the protestors gave two reasons — fear of their employers finding out that they are part of a self-proclaimed fascist organization and fear of “doxing", or concern about having their identifying information put out on the internet, typically with malicious intent. Photo by Zac Burtt/Siuslaw News

Northwest Nationalist Network spends Saturday afternoon at the corner of 35th and Kingwood

May 3, 2023 — A group of mostly masked protestors spent most of the afternoon of Saturday, April 29 at the base of Florence Golf Links’ driveway holding a sign that said “PEDOPHILES OUT OF OUR SCHOOLS [sic]” in demonstration against “Fanny Rugburn’s Magical Queendom” a performance put on by Jason Wood, known by his stage name Fanny Rugburn.

The shows, at 1 and 3 p.m., were all-ages and included music, games and activities.

The protestors identified themselves as a group of fascists known as the Northwest Nationalist Network (3N). According to the group’s mission statement, 3N is a “collective of autonomous Nationalist groups based in the PNW. United under the black sun tri-color, these groups will work together to foster White Unity and re-instill a sense of pride and belonging in Our People.”

The protestors were dressed in black, khaki pants, and almost all wore facial coverings, sunglasses, and/or hats.

The Florence Police Department (FPD) was on site. According to Chief John Pitcher, a few days prior to the show his department was informed there could possibly be a protest and on Saturday morning a fellow law enforcement confirmed that a group was on its way to Florence.  

“We made contact when they came up,” said Pitcher as he observed the protestors. “They know what they can and can’t do and so far, there are no issues. They told me they wouldn’t be violent and that’s what I’m hoping for.”

Members of 3N were unwilling to provide details on how they heard about the event, who organized the protest or if someone locally ‘invited’ them. They also declined to comment on where they came from aside from the ‘all around the Pacific Northwest’. 

Several members of this group alleged they also protested an all ages drag show in Pasco, Wash. earlier this month. 

“They cannot reproduce, so they groom,” said a protestor who identified himself as Alfred. “It’s part of the homosexual agenda. I think it’s evil, frankly. I think it’s demonic.”

Across the street for the duration of the event were at least two and up to ten counter protestors. 

“I think it’s important people know there’s more than one point of view,” says Jim Wellington, a Florence local who held a sign with the first line reading “In our America all people are equal.”

“I’m here because I see drag as an art form,” said Rev. Dr. Jennifer Yoakum. “This group of people are yelling all kinds of filth and obscenities against people who are queer, people who are Jewish, people who are black. I’m here with a gay flag to let people who may be gay or questioning to know they are loved, they are heard and they are safe.”

Wood has come under increased scrutiny recently as he is running for school board in the May 16 Special District Election. Local opposition appears to coincide with an increase in the national discussion about the appropriateness of all-ages drag shows and increased debate over gender-affirming care for transgender youth.

Wood is one of the founding directors of C.R.O.W., a local music teacher and a performer for over a decade in the Florence community. Prior to Saturday’s protest Wood reported he’s received death threats and escalated aggression over social media since he announced his candidacy for school board. 

During the protest, Dianna Pimlott, the current Siuslaw School Board Director running for re-election against Wood, parked her vehicle and approached the protestors. 

[Editor’s note: Siuslaw News was able to record some of the conversation Pimlott had with the protestors but most of what we got was inaudible. We reached out to Pimlott for a description of the events and this is her statement.]

“I have no knowledge of who invited this group to protest Jason’s event. I approached this group in anger intending to find out who was responsible for them being here to disrupt my opponent’s event. I learned very quickly that they were not from our community and were unlikely to give credence to anything I could say to get them to move out. During my encounter with this group, more than one protester shouted, ‘we are here to protect kids’, and ‘if you are here to support Jason then leave now’. They had a lot more to say to me and me to them, but nothing that was productive in disbanding this group and moving them out. I want this campaign for school board to be about our schools and our candidates to be considered based on the qualities that they will bring to the school board. I am very sorry that this extremist group was brought into our community to interfere with Jason’s event.”

Nik Remer, the General Manager of Florence Golf Links, was also present and observed some of the protest from behind the gathering. 

“As a golf course and as a facility we do not discriminate,” said Remer. “We will support anybody that wants to come in and rent the room and do whatever performance they want to do. It doesn't matter your sex or race or anything else.”

Cars that entered the Florence Golf Links driveway during the protest was questioned about their motives by the group. 

“Groomer or golfer?,” the protesters were heard asking some cars that turned into the golf course.

Though no violence ensued, the protestors were verbally aggressive throughout the demonstration. Anyone that passed by, in their car or on foot, who did not appear to agree with the group’s message was verbally assaulted, many with anti-LGBQT+ slurs. 

As the afternoon continued on, anti-semitic slurs were added to the protestors repertoire of insults. Upon inquiry, the group did confirm they believe Jewish people, along with the LGBQT+ community, are not part of the world they want to live in. 

The protest continued until the conclusion of the second event with FPD remaining on site until the demonstrators departed.