Police departments in Utah, Ohio and Pennsylvania aided by assistance from agents from Federal Bureau of Investigation Field Offices in Ohio and Utah are investigating threats made by email to local media referencing the retail chain Target’s LGBT merchandise collections celebrating Pride Month.
KUTV CBS 2 Salt Lake City reported that Sgt. John Ottesen with Layton Utah Police said bomb threats were made to Target stores in Layton, Salt Lake City, Taylorsville and Provo. Ottesen confirmed that multiple law enforcement agencies commenced the investigation after the local new stations received the emailed threats.
A Target store in Layton, Utah, was evacuated after police said they were informed of a bomb threat to multiple Utah locations.
The threats specifically mentioned Target’s Pride merchandise, were three sentences long, and came from a “bogus email address,” according to Ottesen.
WOIO Cleveland 19 News received a bomb threat May 26 against four Target stores in Ohio and a store in Monaca, Pa., purportedly from a person or persons angry over Target Corporation’s decision to remove some of the LGBTQ merchandise after a series of threats and physical threats against its retail clerks and staff in several southern states earlier this week.
It was not immediately known if the threats were legitimate, though precautions were quickly taken to ensure staff and customer’s safety according to officials.
A Target spokesperson who spoke with multiple media outlets said, “The safety of our team members and guests is our top priority. Law enforcement investigated these claims and determined our stores are safe. Our stores are currently open and operating regular hours.”
Speaking for the Minneapolis-based retail giant two days ago, spokesperson Kayla Castañeda noted: “Since introducing this year’s collection, we’ve experienced threats impacting our team members’ sense of safety and wellbeing while at work. Given these volatile circumstances, we are making adjustments to our plans, including removing items that have been at the center of the most significant confrontational behavior.”
Castañeda also released a statement from the company:
“For more than a decade, Target has offered an assortment of products aimed at celebrating Pride Month. Since introducing this year’s collection, we’ve experienced threats impacting our team members’ sense of safety and well-being while at work. Given these volatile circumstances, we are making adjustments to our plans, including removing items that have been at the center of the most significant confrontational behavior. Our focus now is on moving forward with our continuing commitment to the LGBTQIA+ community and standing with them as we celebrate Pride Month and throughout the year.”
Removal of the merchandise from its online store in addition to the storefronts has prompted harsh criticism of the retailer.
Numerous LGBT activists and groups have condemned Target for bowing to what is seen as political pressure by a minority of far-right extremists:
“Extremist groups and individuals work to divide us and ultimately don’t just want rainbow products to disappear, they want us to disappear,” Kelley Robinson, president of the Human Rights Campaign, said in a statement. “For the past decade, the LGBTQ+ community has celebrated Pride with Target — it’s time that Target stands with us and doubles-down on their commitment to us.”
On May 26, Alejandra Caraballo, a clinical instructor at the Harvard Law Cyberlaw Clinic and an LGBT activist tweeted her disgust over the decision by Target to effectively abandon company support for the queer product lines and the creators.
Courtesy of the National LGBTQ Media Association.