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Colorado Groups Absorb Hate At LGBTQ+ Events To Protect Families

Colorado Groups Absorb Hate At LGBTQ+ Events To Protect Families

DENVER, (CBS4)- Usually at LGBTQ events like Denver’s Pride celebration Eli Bazan is working. Especially if it is a family friendly event like a Drag queen story hour. He’s one of the co-founders of the Parasol Patrol. They are a group of volunteers that tries to separate event attendees from protestors.

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“What we do is we use our rainbow umbrella as a shield to block the signs and the faces of protesters,” explained Eli. “We use our ear protection for our little ones.”

They absorb the heckling and name-calling so that kids don’t have to. He says he feels like they are protecting kids from bigotry and hate.

“Quite honestly, some of the stuff they yell at these kids is pretty dramatic,” said Eli.

Despite what they might hear from protestors, the Parasol Patrol doesn’t start trouble. No matter how tense the situation may get.

“We don’t engage with them at all. I’m not here to yell back,” said Eli.  “I’m not going to change their mind. They’re not going to change my mind.”

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Eli says taking the high road is getting tougher to do. He follows extremists online to see where they are planning to show up. Recently he has seen an increase in hate.

“The rhetoric in the last 2 months has been the highest I’ve seen in the last 3 years,” he said.

He says take for example the extremist group that was recently caught readying themselves to disrupt a Pride event in Idaho. He saw extremists planning their event online before they were caught.

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The Parasol Patrol says they have seen threats made toward Denver’s Pride weekend events as well which is why Eli says he stays ready.

“There will be protesters. Tomorrow at the parade, there will be protesters,” said Eli.

Eli says they report threats of violence to law enforcement because, while they are good at protecting people, there are some things out of their scope of expertise.

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“These aren’t ballistic shields. They don’t stop bullets. They’re just umbrellas,” Eli said.

While it can be dangerous to confront extremists, Eli says it’s worth it so that everyone can feel welcome at public events. Especially children and families.

“It helps them understand that they’re not alone. That there are people just like them that that they are loved because of who they are not in spite of who they are,” said Eli.