FERNANDINA BEACH, Fla. — Fernandina Beach residents are at odds with each other over a pride festival and parade expected to be held on June 10.
One side sees no problem with the event, while the other side believes the city should revoke the permit for the event.
“It is a planned, orchestrated attack,” Genece Minshew said.
Minshew, with Fernandina Beach Pride, isn’t happy after a local group, Nassau County Citizens Defending Freedom, is trying to get a Fernandina Beach pride parade and festival shut down by asking the city to revoke their permit.
“The national conversation in the last year or so has been around demonizing the LGBTQ community, transgender people, and drag queens,” Minshew said.
Minshew said this festival has been going on since 2019. She believes the reason why this group has a problem with their festival and parade is that it’s open to anyone, including children.
And in one of their previous events, drag queens performed.
Jack Knocke, Executive Director of Citizens Defending Freedom, said in Tuesday night’s meeting that he has been attacked for what he believes in.
“What this turned into was a massive amount of hatred toward me. I’ve been labeled homophobic, transphobic, racist, false prophet,” Knocke said.
Knocke said they just want to maintain certain protected safe zones for children.
“If you look at our city commission charter, you’ll see through our charter the children should be protected in churches schools, and parks,” Knocke said.
Action News Jax reached out to Fernandina Beach city attorney Tammy Bach.
She said permits have already been approved for this year’s event, and they plan to issue them to Fernandina Beach Pride days before the event.
She said there is no legal reason to revoke the permit at this point.
In Tuesday night’s meeting, Mayor Bradley Bean did make it clear to the audience that no decision about this parade and festival would be made.
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Sarah Calamunci, Citizens Defending Freedom’s Florida State Director, shared the following statement with Action News Jax:
“Citizens Defending Freedom encourages citizens to exercise their First Amendment right. This is not about silencing anyone’s voice or rights. The pride parade is permitted by the city, so this comes down to recognizing that the parade will violate city ordinance, given that the pride parade contains sexually explicit content like dancing drag queens and other age inappropriate material for children. Since the parade route is directed through spaces dedicated to children, including a playground, we believe that it should be rerouted. If the parade organizers are unwilling to move the parade away from children’s spaces, we believe that the city should not approve the event at all.”