BANGOR, Maine — A controversial men’s rights group called Return of Kings that claimed members would rendezvous at the Bangor Public Library on Saturday night as part of an international meeting abruptly canceled the event Wednesday night in the wake of an angry backlash.
“I can no longer guarantee the safety or privacy of the men who want to attend on February 6, especially since most of the meetups can not be made private in time,” the group’s leader, Daryush Valizadeh, announced on the Return of Kings Facebook page.
“While I can’t stop men who want to continue meeting in private groups, there will be no official Return Of Kings meetups. The listing page has been scrubbed of all locations. I apologize to all the supporters who are let down by my decision,” Valizadeh said.
The library was to have served as a public meeting point. From there, members were to have moved to undisclosed location to hold a meeting.
Bangor was one of 165 public meeting locations in 43 countries, according to the group. The gatherings were set for 8 p.m.
Return of Kings, founded by Valizadeh, espouses a “ neomasculism” philosophy — which proclaims the superiority of heterosexual males — which has been described as misogynistic, homophobic and discriminatory. It is a largely online organization.
Bangor Public Library Director Barbara McDade had no comment when asked on Wednesday about the library having been picked as a meetup site. She did note the library wouldn’t be open during that time.
Bangor police Sgt. Tim Cotton said Wednesday that police were aware of the event.
“We are aware of all the Internet chatter and forums,” Cotton wrote in an email. “People have the right to assemble and gather and the Bangor Police Department has no intention of disrupting peaceful and legal activities. Again, if we are needed, we will be there.”
In other cities where meetups were to have occurred, public officials have condemned the group.
“Your pro-rape, misogynistic, homophobic garbage is not welcome in Ottawa,” stated Mayor Jim Watson of Ottawa, Ontario, on Twitter on Tuesday.