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Straight Pride organizers consider Modesto Centre Plaza for Aug. 24 rally

Tensions run high at Modesto’s council meeting as Straight Pride organizers go on defense

Several dozen people gathered Wednesday evening in Modesto, California’s, downtown to send a message to the city: Do not let the National Straight Pride Coalition hold a rally in a city park.
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Several dozen people gathered Wednesday evening in Modesto, California’s, downtown to send a message to the city: Do not let the National Straight Pride Coalition hold a rally in a city park.

The organizers of the proposed straight pride rally are talking with city officials about using Modesto Centre Plaza, the city’s downtown convention center, for their Aug. 24 event.

City spokesman Thomas Reeves said Don Grundmann, one of the organizers, spoke with the city Monday and Tuesday about reserving the paved area called Park Plaza in front of the convention center. It can hold a few hundred people.

The city Friday denied organizers’ request to reserve Graceada Park’s Mancini Bowl for their Aug. 24 rally, citing concerns over safety, that the rally is not compatible with other events in the park, and because organizers’ liability insurance has been voided.

The city also proposed Centre Plaza as an alternative for Aug. 24, as long as organizers applied by 5 p.m. Tuesday, including providing proof of insurance.

That did not happen, but Reeves said Modesto will continue to work with straight pride organizers in good faith. But he stressed they need to provide city officials with all required paperwork by Friday. That will give city officials a week to review the application, including verifying insurance and conducting a risk assessment.

Grundmann, a Bay Area chiropractor, is working with longtime friend and Modesto resident Mylinda Mason on the rally. He started the National Straight Pride Coalition about four months ago.

According to its website, the coalition is protecting traditional gender roles, Christianity, heterosexuality, Western Civilization, and the contributions of whites to Western Civilization from the malevolence of the homosexual movement.

The proposed rally has drawn strong opposition locally, including dozens of people who packed last week’s City Council meeting and asked the city not to allow the rally. Opponents say the coalition and the rally promote white supremacy, hate speech and violence against the LGBTQ+ community, people of color and other minorities.

Grundmann and Mason say that is not true and accuse opponents of intolerance by trying to deny them their free speech rights. They did not respond to requests for comment by 6 p.m. Tuesday.

City officials have said they need to respect any group’s right to free speech and peaceful assembly and allowing a group to use a city venue is not an endorsement by the city of that group.

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Kevin Valine covers local government, homelessness and general assignment for The Modesto Bee. He is a graduate of San Jose State University and grew up in San Jose.
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