An anti-LGBTQ+ demonstration was held by a local hate group at the Target store in Buffalo, MN on June 17, 2023. The protest was attended by about 20 right wing extremists, with one of them openly armed with a handgun. They held signs encouraging Target customers to boycott the store. Two weeks prior to this protest, the leader of the hate group, Bradlee Dean, filmed himself confronting the manager of this Target store about the Pride merchandise on display and then posted the video to his channel (sonsoflibertyradio) on the extremist website Rumble.
A concerned individual posted the video to a chat group that advocates for LGBTQ+ rights in the Wright-Sherburne (WS) area. On Friday evening (June 16th), a local TCDSA member saw a screenshot of the hate group’s organizing thread that indicated their plans to protest at the Buffalo Target the next morning at 10 am. Opposition to the display of hatred was organized with just twelve hours notice, and a similar number of people attended the counter-demonstration. Many passersby gave honks of support to the counter protestors and some stopped spontaneously to join the counter protest. TCDSA members were there demonstrating and documenting the event.
There was shouting between the two groups and a Buffalo Police Officer was called to the scene by Target security. Thankfully there was no violence – this despite attendees being encouraged to “ammo up” by comments on Bradlee Dean’s Rumble video. The hate group made many attempts to provoke counter protestors into violence, including hateful and derogatory comments aimed at counter protestors that were minors and grabbing pride flags that were on display.
The anti-LGBTQ+ demonstration was organized by designated hate group Sons of Liberty Media, led by Wright County resident Bradlee Dean. Dean hosts a right-wing Christian fundamentalist podcast where he cherry-picks Bible verses to condemn queer folks. His version of religion is ferociously exclusionary and his dehumanizing language is just the sort of thing that can provoke violence against those he deems heretical. Examples of Dean’s thoughts can be found at the GLAAD Accountability Project.
Proving that Wright County is also home to many supporters of human rights and personal freedom, Wright-Sherburne Pride will be held on Saturday, July 8th at Ellison Park in Monticello. This will be a joyful celebration of queer life, in sharp contrast to the angry and bitter demonstration at Target in June. Music, food, dance, and entertainment will be shared with the Prideful. Come visit the West Metro / Wright County table any time during pride, but especially from 2-3pm when we’re inviting TCDSA members to hang out as a low-key social event.
Members of the TCDSA West Metro / Wright County and Street Corps Working Groups will be marshaling at WS Pride. Right-wing bigots will probably be at WS Pride, demonstrating against love and spewing religious hate. We’ll be there to celebrate Pride and to help ensure the safety of everyone attending.
Join us in celebrating Pride and consider volunteering as a marshal! If interested in marshaling, please message @Cory Trevorsen on slack or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. There will be a pre-event security overview at 6PM on July 6 at Ellison Park. Monticello is a 40 minute drive northwest of Minneapolis on Interstate 94. More information about WS Pride can be found on their website.
– Twin Cities DSA West Metro & Wright County Working Group