January 19, 2017 at 6:35 pm EDT | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
Anti-gay protesters picket gay-owned D.C. restaurant
Comet Ping Pong, gay news, Washington Blade

Protesters targeted Comet Ping Pong on Thursday. (Photo by Elizabeth Murphy; courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

About half a dozen protesters carrying signs reading “homo sex is sin” and “Sodom was destroyed for sex” formed a picket line late Thursday morning and afternoon outside the Comet Ping Pong pizza restaurant on Connecticut Avenue, N.W. in the city’s Chevy Chase neighborhood.

Washingtonian magazine’s online blog reported the group identified themselves as the “Official Street Preachers,” but the blog didn’t immediately report where they were from or what their objective was.

The family-oriented Comet Ping Pong, owned by gay businessman James Alefantis, was the target of fake news stories in November that attempted to link it to a non-existent pedophile ring said to be operated by supporters of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

D.C. police said the fake stories prompted a 28-year-old North Carolina man to drive to D.C. on Dec. 4 and enter Comet Ping Pong while carrying an assault rifle in an attempt to rescue what he believed were children being sold for sex in a hidden room in the basement of the restaurant. The restaurant has no basement.

Edgar Welch surrendered peacefully to police without anyone being injured.

Interim D.C. Police Chief Peter Newsham denounced the fake stories for instigating what could have turned into a fatal shooting incident.

Videos scenes of the anti-gay protest outside Comet Ping Pong posted on the Washingtonian’s website on Thursday capture one of the protesters shouting through a bullhorn that he was suspicious over why the restaurant was closed during the daytime hours. Comet Ping Pong opens during the week at 5 p.m.

“Tell me why this pizza place isn’t even open at noon,” the man shouted. “Everyone knows if you own a restaurant noon is the money time,” he said. “Where are they making their money?”

The man went on to say he believes President Obama is a Muslim and he’s “glad we got rid of Obama.”

Comet Ping Pong owner Alefantis couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

“They’re saying terrible things about homosexuals, and how we’re all going to burn in hell,” Washingtonian quoted Matt Carr, owner of an adjacent restaurant called Little Red Fox, as saying. “I’m just outside watching, trying to make sure they don’t attack our customers or anything,” Washingtonian quoted him as saying.

An employee at Little Red Fox told the Washington Blade the protesters disbanded early Thursday afternoon but said they would return at 5 p.m. when Comet Ping Pong opened for business.

Acting Lt. Brett Parson, who oversees the D.C. police LGBT Liaison Unit, said the unit would be available to assist regular officers from the department’s Second District if needed as the protest continues. At least two officers were on the scene observing the protest.

Lou Chibbaro Jr. has reported on the LGBT civil rights movement and the LGBT community for more than 30 years, beginning as a freelance writer and later as a staff reporter and currently as Senior News Reporter for the Washington Blade. He has chronicled LGBT-related developments as they have touched on a wide range of social, religious, and governmental institutions, including the White House, Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, the military, local and national law enforcement agencies and the Catholic Church. Chibbaro has reported on LGBT issues and LGBT participation in local and national elections since 1976. He has covered the AIDS epidemic since it first surfaced in the early 1980s. Follow Lou

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