A small group of Christian protesters performed a Catholic ritual outside of Rehoboth Beach’s The Pines on Saturday, where the restaurant was scheduled to host a drag fundraiser for U.S. Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-Del.).
The six demonstrators, though, weren’t protesting the drag performers, nor were they protesting the gay-owned restaurant and bar. They protested what they said was Blunt Rochester’s “violation of her oath of office” for about 15 minutes, the restaurant’s co-owner, Bob Suppies, said. They were “really friendly” and just recited the rosary, a Catholic prayer, he said.
“I thought it was nice,” Suppies, who was raised Catholic, said. “And it’s their right to do that.”
Local conservative talk show host Jake Smith, who falsely claims that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from former president Donald Trump and said that “not every Muslim is guilty, but every Muslim is suspect” of sympathizing with Islamic extremists in 2015, called for the protest on his Tuesday, June 6 WGMD show and filed for a protest permit on Friday. Walt Palmer, the station’s director of broadcast operations, engineering, and programming, declined to provide a copy of the show but confirmed that Smith called for the protest on his show.
The protest, which was first reported by Alan Henney, caught Suppies by surprise.
“We heard about it randomly, someone said they heard it on the radio,” he said, adding that it was the first protest in front of his restaurants. “So we didn’t know what to expect.”
The event had been postponed weeks ago, Suppies said, because Blunt Rochester had a schedule conflict. The protesters didn’t seem to be aware. One protester who identified himself only as Richard told Henney, “We thought that Lisa Blunt Rochester would have a fundraiser today at 11 o’clock and it looks like, where is she?”
“We have no problem with the restaurant,” Richard further told Henney. “We have, I have no problem with the drags.”
Instead, Richard and co-owner Suppies said, the group was protesting Blunt Rochester’s stances on abortion and electric vehicle mandates, which surprised Suppies.
“In today’s culture, you instantly think, ‘Oh, they hate drag queens and here we go,’ with people trying to shut down drag, but that wasn’t it,” he said.
The Blade called WGMD to request an interview with Smith and contacted him through Facebook, but Smith did not respond. The copy of the protest permit Smith filed that was provided to the Blade through an open records request redacted Smith’s phone number, address, and birthdate so the Blade could not call him.
WGMD’s Palmer emphasized that the station and its owner, Data Tech Digital, had nothing to do with the protest. Suppies said he hadn’t heard of the radio station until now and said he might start advertising on the station once parking restrictions lift.
“We all need prayer right now,” Suppies said with a laugh. “I’m like, could they play pray for no rain on the weekend so we can have a good summer? That would be awesome.”
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