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Watch: Stickers Sporting Anti-Gay Hate Pop Up Around Massachusetts City

by Kilian Melloy
Thursday Dec 6, 2018
Hate stickers with threatening messages appeared in Attleboro, MA
Hate stickers with threatening messages appeared in Attleboro, MA  (Source:YouTube via WBZ News)

Massachusetts may have been the cradle of marriage equality liberty in the early 2000s when that state's supreme court struck down barriers preventing committed same-sex couples from solemnizing their unions, but that doesn't mean there aren't homophobes lurking in the woodwork there, just as anywhere else.

Local news sources reported that stickers sporting anti-gay hate messages appeared around the downtown area of Attleboro, a city of about 44,000 people located 39 miles south of Boston.

CBS affiliate and Boston news channel WBZ reported on "disturbing messages of hate" that were "plastered all over that city" by a person or persons unknown. The report said that the stickers bore "anti-gay and racist slurs," and noted that "police are removing them as quickly as they can, but they really want to know whop's leaving them."

The WBZ report showed one of the stickers, which hade been affixed to "an electrical box and a light pole over the weekend," and said that their hateful messages made "many residents uncomfortable."

"The message threatened violence against the LGBTQ community," the report said.

The accompanying image showed one of the stickers before it was scraped off, with the slur blurred out; the visible text read, "touch me... and ill [sic] kill you"

One resident — a man whose son is gay — spoke out against the stickers, saying "You never know how far [it's] gonna go. I think you should take it seriously."

NBC affiliate Channel 10 also covered the story, with the mayor of Attleboro, Paul Heroux, telling the station, "This is not characteristic of Attleboro at all."

A tweet from the news station's reporter Ashley Cullinane showed a photo of one of the stickers. In this instance, too, the slur was blurred out.

The stickers were posted mere weeks after a caller phoned two Boston gay bars and threatened violence against their clientele. As previously reported at EDGE, the calls came about 24 hours apart, with the first being received by the manager of dbar in Dorchester on Friday night, Nov. 9 — just two days after a gunman terrorized a country music bar in California and killed a dozen people, including a security guard. The caller threatened to "shoot the place up," according to the establishment's owner.

The second call was placed to the Alley Bar in Boston on the following night, Saturday, Nov. 10. Police were able to trace the call back to a landline in the nearby Massachusetts town of Peabody. However, although the calls targeted Boston businesses and were made from within the state, they were reportedly the work of a teenager from New Hampshire. The male suspect was not named due to his status as a minor, but the police issued a statement saying that he had already been wanted in New Hampshire for "threats with public alarm and civil rights violations."

In much the same way as Boston city officials and police condemned those calls, Attleboro mayor Paul Heroux left no room for doubt that the threatening stickers were unacceptable to the city, declaring Attleboro to be "a very diverse community."

Added Mayor Heroux, "It's disappointing someone would do this because it doesn't reflect who we are or our values."

Police have launched an investigation, reports said, and any suspects who are caught could face vandalism charges — though not hate crimes charges, since the threats were not directed at any specific individuals.

Watch the WBZ report below.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Assistant Arts Editor. He also reviews theater for WBUR. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.


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