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Eleven Seattle Gay Bars Receive Threatening Letters

Jim Burroway

January 7th, 2009

Seattle’s The Stranger has the scoop on a very disturbing threat:

Eleven gay bars in Seattle received letters today addressed to the “Owner/Manager” from someone claiming to be in the possession of ricin, a deadly poison. “Your establishment has been targeted,” the letter begins. “I have in my possession approximately 67 grams of ricin with which I will indiscriminately target at least five of your clients.”

…According to the CDC’s website, someone who has ingested “a significant amount” will develop vomiting and diarrhea within the first 6-12 hours; other symptoms of ricin poisoning include hallucinations, seizures, and blood in the urine. There is no antidote for ricin but ricin exposure is not invariably fatal.

The Seattle Police Department is taking the the threat seriously. They are running forensic tests on all the letters. Seattle Police are also coordinating their investigation with the FBI and other federal agencies.

While the ricin threat is very disturbing, it appears that actually delivering on the threat without being detected would not be an easy task. Nevertheless, everyone is taking the letters very seriously. At least one bar, the Eagle, is posting signs advising patrons not to leave their drinks unattended.

In addition to the eleven bars, the Seattle Stranger also received a letter addressed to the attention of “Obituaries”:

The letter’s author said the paper should “be prepared to announce the deaths of approximately 55 individuals all of whom were patrons of the following establishments on a Saturday in January.” The listed bars are: the Elite, Neighbours, Wild Rose, the Cuff, Purr, the Eagle, R Place, Re-bar, CC’s, Madison Pub, and the Crescent. “I could take this moment to launch into a diatribe about my indignation towards the gay community,” the letter concludes, “however, I think the deaths will speak for themselves.”

No word on who might be behind the threats or their motivation.



January 7th, 2009 | LINK

Who did it? Mormons, of course.

We all know how that tit-for-tat-without-any-proof-whatsoever works, don’t we???

(But, they started it Mum…)

This, on the reminder of the murder of Sean Kennedy, makes me remember how far we still have to travel. Given all our worldly cynicism and our armour, notwithstanding, I’m still more than a little bothered by how much the BTB reminder of Sean Kennedy has upset us. Really upset us.

Signs have gone up in our local bars, yet again at this time of year, reminding patrons to beware of another plague of gay-bashing as they walk to their homes or cars. Seasons greetings, and goodwill to all mankind.

Regan DuCasse… I think we need your sholder for a moment, if you can make room.

January 7th, 2009 | LINK

Bet that the trail ends at a church somewhere. Only a religious nut would do this.

Jim Burroway
January 7th, 2009 | LINK

It might be treason for me to say this, but I suspect it probably isn’t a religious nut case. Two clues: There are no religious references, and he uses the phrase “gay community” rather than “homosexuals.” There are also no political references either.

We’ve seen cases where acts against the LDS church has been blamed on gay activists with no evidence to substantiate that claim whatsoever. For all we know, those acts might have been perpetrated by a prop 8 supporter trying to smear the gay community.

Well, this may not be who we first assume it is as well. My personal opinion: it could just as easily be a deeply disturbed, disgruntled gay person somewhere. But as with all opinions and guesses, I could very very well be wrong.

January 7th, 2009 | LINK

Did they block off 4 square blocks of downtown Seattle when they discovered the letters? Did several HazMat EMT units descend on the place? Did they cause a commuter nightmare and the blame was murmured to be a terrorist attack by “the gays”? Did it make headline news for two days?

Oh…it’s not like the experience in Salt Lake City with “the letter” a couple of months ago. (I personally heard such murmuring about gay terrorist(s) who sent the letters to the LDS Church HQ.) It’s a matter of perspective isn’t it? A gay business is not as important as a church headquarters.

Okay…so there wasn’t an immediate-danger element to the Seattle letters…but still…

January 7th, 2009 | LINK

There are no religious references, and he uses the phrase “gay community” rather than “homosexuals.”

I think that is strange too.

But then again, were the author a gay individual trying to conceal hard his/her identity, it would be easy to write the letter in the stereotypical fundamentalist style.

Timothy Kincaid
January 7th, 2009 | LINK

All I can say is the targets won’t care much that they’ll be dead and nearly frozen, just as, presumably, they didn’t care that they were living…

This doesn’t ring to me as a disgruntled gay person. This sounds more like one of those anti-gays that specialize in bogus statistics and depersonalization of gays.

Lynn David
January 7th, 2009 | LINK

Also there is the quote lifted from a poem, A Display of Mackerel, by the poet, Mark Doty. And yes, he is gay, see the Slog, at:
For some reason IEv7 won’t let me into the Slog anymore.

You can read the poem here:
See lines 41-44.

I wouldn’t put it past the police to look for a family member of gay person who died from AIDS perhaps in the month of January or February, in 2008 or an earlier year. They could have found a copy of Doty’s poems among the effects of their loved one. Maybe the person who passed away was 55? Or born that year (1955). Perhaps something like that.

David C.
January 7th, 2009 | LINK

I think we should leave the criminology to the professional profilers that do such things for a living. Making up fantasies and believing in them will do nothing to advance meaningful discourse or unravel any plot to target patrons of gay bars in Seattle.

For me, it is encouraging that the authorities are calling in the resources they need to thwart any such plan and attempt to apprehend real or potential perpetrators.

Lynn David
January 7th, 2009 | LINK

Oh gee…. I guess it’s just the geneaologist as detective in me that gets going… so what?

January 8th, 2009 | LINK

I posted this on another site:

“I’m an aquaintance of one of the bar owners referenced in these letters, and it’s frightening.

Regardless of the speculation about who it may be that wrote the letters, It’s not something to be taken lightly.

The local/Seattle Media, with the acception of fringe publications/blogs has been pathetic. . .subject to infighting within the gay community and apathy.

Some have even suggested that this is a marketing ploy.

I just want some swift action regardless, and I seriously believe that if this wasn’t a threat to “gay bars” It would be looked at differently.”

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