Bathroom Bill Opponent Says Angry Activist Attacked Him At Private Event

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NEWTON — A key figure behind a ballot question that would repeal a law allowing people who say they identify with the opposite sex to use the public bathrooms and changing rooms they prefer says he was spat on and cursed at by an unidentified person who crashed a private event.

William Gillmeister, the policy and financial director for the Renew Massachusetts Coalition, told New Boston Post his group booked Sichuan Garden, a Chinese restaurant on Walnut Street in Newton Highlands, on Sunday afternoon. Gillmeister said he spotted the individual removing his group’s signs from the front of the restaurant and confronted the person.

“I said, ‘Hey, you can’t take those’,” Gillmeister recalled. “This individual immediately started swearing at me and accused me of promoting hate speech.”

The signs, according to Gillmeister and others who attended the event, are blue and white and adorned with the slogan “Keep MA Safe,” the name of the coalition pushing the 2018 ballot question seeking to repeal the so-called Bathroom Bill.

“I immediately realized there was a lot of anger in this individual,” Gillmeister said.

Gilmeister said he warned the person he would call the police, which he did. The individual, whom Gillmeister took for a male but later was identified by police as a female, “kept yelling at us through the windows,” Gillmeister said, adding that he and the restaurant owner stood in the doorway to prevent the person from entering.

“Yelling cursing words I cannot repeat and you wouldn’t be able to print,” Gillmeister recalled. “Eventually he spat at me, spit hit my sport coat on the shoulder, and then he left.”

Gillmeister said two police cruisers pulled into the restaurant parking lot minutes later. He said he provided police with a photo of his assailant that he took on his cell phone. Police, according to Gillmeister, caught up with the individual moments later.

On Tuesday a police spokesman told New Boston Post that the incident report “has not been approved for release yet.”

A police blotter entry posted Monday corroborates Gillmeister’s account, however.

“During the function, a woman came into the restaurant, stole two signs, and then, when they stopped her, spit on his shoulder,” the entry stated. “When stopped, police said she was irate and stated that the signs were taken because of disagreeing beliefs.”

The entry notes that the woman tossed the signs into a dumpster. Police later charged her with assault and battery and larceny of property valued at less than $250, according to the blotter entry.

On Tuesday police remained tight-lipped on the matter, and declined to provide the name of the accused or any other details.

The police department’s online incident logs indicate Gillmeister’s call came in at 4:03 p.m. Sunday, April 30.



Gillmeister said his group will not be intimidated by such incidents. 

“We’ve got until November 6, 2018, to educate people about why we think this bill is bad,” he said, referring to election day, when voters are set to decide whether to repeal the Bathroom Bill.

(Courtesy — William Gillmeister)

Asked whether his coalition is energized to repeal the measure despite such incidents, Gillmeister pointed to his alleged spitter as an example.

“I suppose the reason, the question is, would you want this man, dressed as a woman, spits at people, going into the restroom with your wife or daughter?” Gillmeister said. “The signs this individual claimed were hate speech — they said ‘keep MA safe’ — I challenge anyone to describe to me how this is hate speech.

“Who can argue that this is hate speech?”