Subscribe

Anti-gay protesters met by counterprotesters in Guerneville

Guerneville Plaza was the scene again Wednesday of anti-gay protesters whom some locals say are simply hatemongers from out of town.|

After a three-week hiatus, Guerneville Plaza was again the site of anti-gay protesters whom some locals say are simply hatemongers.

Some self-described members of the "Pizza Box Brigade," gathered Wednesday to counter protest.

Holding handmade signs painted on pizza boxes, the counter-protesters said the demonstrators are spreading the kind of message that’s not welcome in their famously queer-friendly town.

Suzy Kuhr, owner of Smart Pizza, located on the plaza, was among those on Wednesday holding up a sign reading: “Jesus loves me and my girlfriend.”

She said the religious demonstrators, who come from various other areas outside Guerneville, have seemed to target the plaza which is surrounded by businesses and homes, yelling at pedestrians not to eat at her business due to the rainbow LGBTQ flag displayed out front.

“There has been no effect, if anything we get more business,” Kuhr said.

“There’s no room for hate here,” Kuhr said from her pizza shop, as the demonstrators continued to yell outside. “There’s no need for it.”

The idea for the Pizza Box Brigade came from one of her employees, Louis Britton, who was the first person to paint a pizza box sign about three weeks ago. Someone took a photo of him standing next to the religious demonstrators and that photo circulated the internet, including Sonoma County Supervisor Lynda Hopkins’ Facebook page.

People that give me hope for humanity: 1) President Zelensky. 2) Pizza Box Guy, in Guerneville earlier today, with a...

Posted by Lynda Hopkins on Wednesday, March 2, 2022

“They got pretty evil ― I just took it in stride,” Britton said.

So, Kuhr and other business owners nearby, including owners of Sonoma Nesting Company, formed the “Pizza Box Brigade,” donating pizza boxes and painting them to hand out in case the anti-gay group returned.

And they did. So the group of six, who said they were not part of any formal organization, were outnumbered by at least twice the amount of counter protesters on Wednesday.

Loi Nguyen, of San Francisco, a member of the anti-gay religious group, said they’ve held similar demonstrations across California, including at UC Berkeley, Sebastopol and San Francisco, but have been focusing on Guerneville because of the foot traffic.

The group, whose members come from Oakland, San Francisco, Mendocino County and Humboldt County, said they were there to spread “God’s message.”

But, the way they have spread that message― using bullhorns, blasting gospel music, and shouting at pedestrians ― has warranted numerous calls to law enforcement.

Sgt. Ryan Russell of the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office was at the plaza Wednesday to “find some common ground” with the religious demonstrators, dissolve tensions and decrease disruption to local businesses.

He was able to get the group to stop using bullhorns. They left shortly after.

Anti-gay religious protestors gathering in the Guerneville Plaza are being met by counter protestors Wednesday afternoon.

Posted by Press Democrat on Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Jake Hamlin, who co-owns the Sonoma Nesting Company, an antiques store located near the plaza, said it’s been hard to ignore their “screaming and yelling.”

He said he can even hear them from inside his home which sits next to his business.

He hopes the pizza box signs will show the community that the town remains a place full of love and acceptance.

And Hamlin hopes that the community’s message to the anti-gay protesters is clear: “Please, get out of our town. You don’t live here.”

Alana Minkler

Breaking news & general assignment reporter, The Press Democrat

The world is filled with stories that inspire compassion, wonder, laughs and even tears. As a Press Democrat reporter covering breaking news, tribes and youth, it’s my goal to give others a voice to share these stories.

UPDATED: Please read and follow our commenting policy:

  • This is a family newspaper, please use a kind and respectful tone.
  • No profanity, hate speech or personal attacks. No off-topic remarks.
  • No disinformation about current events.
  • We will remove any comments — or commenters — that do not follow this commenting policy.
Send a letter to the editor

Our Network

The Press Democrat
Sonoma Index-Tribune
Petaluma Argus Courier
North Bay Business Journal
Sonoma Magazine
Bite Club Eats
La Prensa Sonoma
Sonoma County Gazette