By now, most folks know that earlier this month there was uproar surrounding the Los Angeles Dodgers 10th annual Pride Night scheduled on June 16. Earlier in June, the Dodgers invited the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence to be honored at the event. Bombarded by conservative outrage, the team then rescinded their invite to the LA chapter of the LGBTQ+ charity organization, caving to pressure from the right faster than a Target executive could ever dream of. But then bombarded again, this time by LGBTQ+ organizations for caving to the whims of conservatives, the Dodgers reinstated the Sister as part of their Pride Night event once and for all.
As a result, something happened at Dodger Stadium last Friday night. The extremists showed up.
If we have learned anything from the past several years, it’s that right-wingers will not go quietly into the night after resounding defeat. What we know from experience is that they go out and organize — which is exactly what they did.
In response to the Dodgers re-inviting the Sisters to the events, Catholics for Catholics, an Arizona based 501c4 organization, put together a “Prayerful Procession at Dodger Stadium” rally. Flyers for the event listed that it was to be held in Lot 13 from 3pm to 7pm with a full schedule of speakers and would culminate in a walk to the entry of Dodger Stadium on Vin Scully Avenue.
While promotion for the event may have seemed like a simple group of Angelenos heading out to assert their right to peacefully protest, the devil truly is in the details on this one — those details being who was behind the promotion of the event, who spoke at the event, and these folks’ reach within the right-wing ecosystem.
The event drew around 2,000 people — nearly the same number of participants in the U.S. Capitol riot on January 6th, 2021. That is not a small scale gathering with little threat for incident. Friday’s rally briefly blocked Gate A to Dodger Stadium, temporarily halting entry to the ballpark at game time.
Among right-wing personalities that mentioned or promoted the event were January 6th “Stop the Steal” organizer Ali Alexander, Eric Metaxas, Marjorie Taylor Greene, Ron DeSantis, Marco Rubio and Rudy Giuliani.
On their website, Catholics for Catholics list QAnon supporting General Michael Flynn as their Senior Advisor and promote their endorsements from Breitbart co-founder and Trump-man Steve Bannon and election denying Arizona Congressman Eli Crane.
Speakers and guests at the event included disgraced ex-LA Sheriff Alex Villenueva, who was once called ‘a danger to the people he is sworn to serve’ due to his scandal-plagued tenure, conservative “anti-woke” sports commentator Jon Root, and Bishop Joseph Strickland, who has previously expressed anti-vaccine and anti-LGBTQ+ sentiments. Strickland traveled from Tyler, Texas to speak at the event.
But there is no doubt that far-right personality Jack Posobiec’s endorsement, promotion and attendance of the event served to elevate it’s reach exponentially. On June 6, Posobeic hosted Catholics for Catholics CEO John Yep on his podcast ‘Human Events’ to begin amplifying the rally, where Yep said that he hoped the event would be a “Catholic Bud Light moment”.
For context, Posobiec has 2.1 million Twitter followers and nearly 1.1 million Truth Social followers. He’s kind of a big deal to right-wingers who consume fake news like their life depends on it. He has also been designated as an extremist by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Posobiec is a ubiquitous figure in the far-right movement and has been credited as one of the worst spreaders of disinformation online. He has fervently promoted the Pizzagate conspiracy theory, and was once a host on One America News (OAN) before leaving to join the Charlie Kirk founded ‘Turning Point USA’. He is also the senior editor of the conservative news website ‘Human Events’.
The day after the rally, Steve Bannon hosted Posobiec on his podcast ‘War Room’, where he praised Posobiec for helping pull off a successful event. Posobiec then called for more “public displays of Christianity” such as the prayer event, and when asked by Bannon if this felt like the start of a revolt, Posobeic responded threateningly:
“We’re going to keep going, we’re going turn Bud Light and Target and the LA Dodgers and any other organization, any other team, company … we’re putting you all on the list, so take notice because we’re putting you on notice, we will show up with thousands and thousands to drive you out of business, we’re going to drive you into shame.”
When asked about starting “a dialogue” with the opposite side of the aisle, Posobiec launched into more threatening rants:
“I will not dialogue with evil, I will not dialogue with demons … we will not dialogue with them, we will defeat them and that’s what we did yesterday and to the Major League Baseball teams around the country, guess what, not only are we going to be leading boycotts every other time you do this … we are going to show up every time you try to do something like this.”
Even more damning for the event was the presence of LEXIT, a group that calls themselves the largest Latino conservative movement in America. Several people involved in LEXIT, including founder Jesse Holguin, were scheduled speakers at the event, which was heavily promoted by LEXIT’s social media accounts.
Besides the extreme views they demonstrate, LEXIT are noted to have been involved with members of California Proud Boys chapters, including member Adam Kiefer, who was involved in the January 6th insurrection.
Kiefer was recently spotted out with the Proud Boys at a school board protest held in Glendale earlier this month, which broke out in a fight that resulted in three arrests. As Posobiec gleefully noted on ‘War Room’, many attendees at the Dodgers Stadium prayer rally were also at the violent Glendale protest.
There are still so many questions about this event, and local coverage was middling at best. The only story that truly covered the event on the ground, published by the Los Angeles Times, felt extremely one dimensional and only grazed the surface of the event through interviews with individual attendees.
Many reporters (especially on the sports journalism side) were simply unequipped to determine whether or not this event was newsworthy, or what they were even looking at — for the average onlooker, it can be hard to determine one screaming conspiracy theorist’s influence from another unless you steep yourself in their ecosystem the way researchers do. Other reporters may have been advised against covering the event, as some sports publications prefer the “stick to sports” method.
When tracing the event back to it’s origin, it’s hard to not see the Dodgers at fault for letting this event take place. Attempts to reach the Dodgers media relations and director of security for comment were unsuccessful, and at the time of publication, Catholics for Catholics had not responded to a message sent via their website asking who to contact to book Lot 13 for event purposes.
Perhaps there is the off-chance that the LAFD Training Facility that shares Lot 13 with the Dodgers were at fault here. However, Lot 13 is listed on the Dodgers stadium map, and has been lauded by fans for once offering $5 parking for Dodger games, but is now mostly used by stadium staff. Sounds a lot like a Dodgers-operated lot.
This is not the first time that Dodger Stadium has been the site of a right-wing protest that’s been cause for disruption. In today’s political climate, it would behoove those who host events known to draw political or religious ire to be prepared for the threat of violence. In order to do that, you must first attempt to get out ahead of a potential threat by media monitoring. Doing this means knowing what and who you’re monitoring, accurately assessing threat levels, and always preparing for more than you planned for.
The Dodgers simply did not do that. While it may be easy for them to throw their hands up and say that they had very little warning or no true idea of the reach the event had, that’s just too simple. In the new era of Twitter, where many right-wing personalities and their followers were invited back online, much of the promotion and discourse around this event happened right under our noses on Twitter. Just a few clicks and someone actively monitoring threats to the stadium would easily have been able to find the treasure-trove of organization that was happening on other, less mainstream websites and platforms.
Promotion of the event became so prominent at one point that CatholicVote, an organization who were instrumental in the Sister’s original invitation being rescinded, allegedly ran a commercial on FOX’s local LA affiliate station to promote the events that were taking place at Dodger Stadium. If that doesn’t raise the alarm bells of ballpark security operations staff — some of whom are bringing experience straight from police forces and military units — then I’m not sure what will.
The glaring truth is that the Dodgers really just dropped the ball on this one. It seems as though no outside research or due diligence was done before allowing this event to be booked, and if it was, it was clearly cursory or the Dodgers would have considered the event too much of a risk to hold.
There is no more sticking to sports, guys. If MLB teams are going to truly take a stand on human-rights issues like the inclusion of the LGBTQ+ population, then they’re going to have to get out ahead of the opposition, because Jack Posobiec made it clear that he’s sending his followers out for your team, too.