When Don Grundmann said the quiet part loudly, the Modesto City Council meeting shuddered with laughter.
Grundmann — a failed U.S. Senate candidate whose platform centers on banning immigration, vaccines and same-sex marriage — has been assailed as racist by his opponents in his effort to stage a “straight pride” parade that also looks to celebrate whites as the architects of Western civilization.
To boos and jeers on Wednesday, Grundmann wagged a finger at council member Kristi Ah You for allegedly inflaming tensions. “You pulled the race card to justify attacks against us in that park. When they come, you’re going to turn right around and say we deserved it.”
The crowd behind him hummed.
“We haven’t done anything,” Grundmann said. “We’re a totally peaceful racist group.”
Dozens of people became the #greenshirtguy in a bout of uproarious laughter at Grundmann’s slip of the tongue, which the crowd appeared to read as an inadvertent admission.
Grundmann tried to regain his composure but could not be heard over the noise.
Members of the city council appeared stone-faced — except Ah You. She face-palmed and turned away from her seat in a fit of laughter. Mayor Ted Brandvold (R) banged the gavel in an effort to restore order. The giggles permeated.
Grundmann told The Washington Post he is not racist. “It was just a verbal gaffe,” he said by phone Friday, before he described an intricate but secret plot by the LGBTQ community to add so many letters to the initialism that it will eventually land on a code that normalizes sex with children.
The calls of racism against him (“white supremacy doesn’t exist,” he said) are a means to defuse his exposure of such plots, he said. “It’s selective news, fake news, I’ll call it,” he said.
Ah You called Grundmann’s National Straight Pride Coalition “hateful, harmful, insincere, and dangerous” in a Facebook post, the Modesto Bee reported. Ah You is also the birth mother of Matthew Mason, whose adoptive mother, Mylinda Mason, is an organizer for the coalition. Mylinda Mason could not be reached for comment.
Matthew Mason has said he is estranged from his adoptive mother because he is gay and said at the council meeting she has espoused anti-gay remarks.
Modesto has not yet decided whether it will allow the rally, the Bee reported, though city officials have said granting permission was not an endorsement of the coalition’s views. The city has said it is prepared for demonstrations and protests that may ensue.
The country’s other straight pride parade movement in Boston has been condemned by opponents for several ties to far-right groups.
It was a big week of city council meetings notable for their laughter. Alex Kack destroyed the Internet on Tuesday with video of him guffawing at anti-immigration protesters who were led out of a meeting by police.