Newton arts center receives bomb threat before Pride event

Shortly before a drag queen story hour was set to begin, the New Art Center in Newton, Massachusetts, received an email claiming "bombs" had been "placed on the rooftops;" the event went on as scheduled after police investigated

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A small arts center in Newton, Massachusetts, received a bomb threat less than an hour before a Pride event was set to begin.

New Art Center Executive Director Emily O'Neil says she believes the threat was made outside the country, with a drag queen story hour being the catalyst.



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The email read, "New Art Center ... at 11 am will go boom. Bombs placed on the rooftops."

It's the first bomb threat the New Art Center has received in its 47-year history, but drag story times have been a focus for anti-trans groups in recent years.

"I think it's kind of a touchpoint for people who want to express hate," said Reggie Woolery, deputy director of education at the New Art Center.

O'Neil immediately called police, who told everyone to evacuate. The Newton Fire Department searched the slate roof of the building – a church from the 1870s.

"We had a really short time frame to figure it out, from the time we got the threat to the time that people were supposed to be in the building celebrating pride," O'Neil said.

Police ultimately cleared the art center, saying there was no need to cancel Sunday's event.

"'Bomb' is a word that we easily could have just not had the event," Woolery said. "We felt that we were safe and that we could go on with the event, and I love that."

While some chose to leave, about 30 families stayed for Storytime with Missy Steak.

"My staff members and Missy Steak, who was here to perform, all felt that putting ourselves forward and having this event and saying no to hatred was the right thing to do," O'Neil said.

Police say the investigation into the bomb threat is ongoing.

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