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Posted on: August 30, 2022

Statement Regarding Recent Activity on Oak Street

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Approximately two weeks ago, City officials learned of a planned brunch being advertised to include a drag show at a local Oak Street business.    Upon learning of this event, the City reviewed all applicable sections of the City’s Zoning Ordinance and determined there was no specific prohibition concerning this type of activity.   Further, after receiving inquiries related to the event being open to all ages, the City found no specific State law that would prohibit children from attending.       

On Sunday, August 28, 2022, Anderson Distillery & Grill, located at 400 South Oak Street, hosted their event called Barrel Babes Drag Brunch.  The City was not affiliated with the event, however the Roanoke Police Department became aware of potential attendance by protesters and counter protestors. Consequently, an operational plan was developed that included additional manpower, resources, and mutual aid, if necessary.   

The event attracted protesters and groups carrying rifles who indicated they were there in support of the private business.  Both of these groups have the right to assemble under the 1st Amendment. Further, the carrying of rifles in public is not prohibited by Texas law.  While, there were minor incidents that occurred outside of the establishment that are being investigated, the activity associated with the drag show did not violate the City’s ‘sexually oriented business’ ordinance.   The City will be reviewing this ordinance to ensure it includes all protective measures legally available consistent with state and federal law.    

In addition, the City received social media complaints regarding the possible serving of alcohol to minors. These complaints have been turned over to the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission for further investigation.   

We are aware that the “drag brunch" was open for all ages and welcomed children.  We recognize and understand the concerns expressed by the community that this activity fails to reflect the family values and caring culture that the city of Roanoke is committed to maintaining.  

“We will do whatever it takes, working with our county and state partners, to maintain a culture of respect for families and in defense of our children,” said Mayor Gierisch. “Having heard from our residents, rest assured that the City is investigating the incident and is pursuing all options to ensure our children are protected, and the safety of our community is not compromised.”

“Freedom of speech is a paramount value, but we all know that it is also important to protect our children. We are sworn to uphold and defend our communities, and we will take all measures available to the City to achieve that goal consistent with state and federal law,” added Mayor Gierisch.

"We are saddened that families were subjected to conduct that resulted in the presence of armed protestors, and believe this behavior was irresponsible, dangerous, and intolerable -- our City will continue to investigate the incident."

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