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Canadian male teen arrested for mass shooting threat against Florida Pride

In regard to the suspect the West Palm Beach Police Deputy Chief noted; “I can say through his statement that there’s no remorse”

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Courtesy of the RCMP

TORONTO – A 17-year-old male adolescent was arrested by Canadian law enforcement after he threatened to commit a mass shooting at Pride on the Block 2022 in West Palm Beach, Florida.

A report was received Sunday, June 5, by the City of Miami Police Department that a video was online posted to the video chat platform Omegle where the teenager suspect was seen waving a gun in the video, making anti-LGBTQ+ comments, and he additionally claimed to be living in Palm Beach County, where he said he was going to commit the mass shooting that day.

After a joint investigation by Miami Police Department which had notified the West Palm Beach Department, the assistance of the FBI, New York Police Department, Toronto Police Service and Peel Regional Police was enlisted to locate and arrest the suspect.

A spokesperson for the RCMP acknowledged that the suspect was arrested Monday and that the weapon seen in the video was recovered. He was charged with threatening to commit a mass shooting and charges including written or electronic threats to kill, do bodily injury, or conduct a mass shooting or an act of terrorism. Charges are also pending in Florida.

ABC News affiliate WPBF 25 reported that West Palm Beach Police Department Deputy Chief Rick Morris said during the press conference that the suspect knew the area well and most likely had other areas in mind for other attacks, but was not in West Palm Beach at the time of the arrest.

“People were very scared. The Pulse nightclub shooting is still very much in people’s minds especially in our gay community, which is tragic. We want the LGBTQ community to know we stand behind them,” Morris said.

In regard to the suspect Morris noted; “I can say through his statement that there’s no remorse.”

West Palm Beach police had uniformed and plainclothes officers along with SWAT team members at the Pride on the Block event on Sunday, which was delayed one day due to severe weather WPBF 25 reported.

“We did ramp (our enforcement) up in addition to the operational plan that we already had in place but I can’t go into the details or the specifics,” said Mike Jachles, public information officer for the West Palm Beach Police Department.

He continued, “These were hate-filled threats targeted at a ‘gay event’ in Palm Beach County and the West Palm Beach Police Department is committed to ensuring the safety of our residents, visitors and anyone who comes to our city.”

He is in custody in Canada currently awaiting extradition to Palm Beach County Florida.

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Organizers of the Montréal Pride festival have cancelled Sunday’s parade

Pride events taking place at the Esplanade du Parc olympique including the closing show with Pabllo Vittar, will go on as as planned

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Courtesy of 𝐅𝐢𝐞𝐫𝐭é 𝐌𝐨𝐧𝐭𝐫é𝐚𝐥 𝐏𝐫𝐢𝐝𝐞/Facebook

MONTREAL – Citing a lack of adequate security personnel the organizers of the Fierte Montreal Pride Parade abruptly cancelled Sunday’s parade. The event organizers told CBC the decision was made in collaboration with Montreal police.

CBC reported that other Pride events taking place at the Esplanade du Parc olympique from 2 p.m., including the closing show with Pabllo Vittar, will go on as as planned. Tens of thousands of people were expected to attend today’s parade.

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Canadian LGBTQ+ youth center postpones drag show after online abuse

“This is stuff that you see in movies, you know, on the news in other countries. You just don’t feel like you’re going to be a victim of it”

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Photo Credit: OutLoud North Bay

NORTH BAY, Ontario, Canada – The LGBTQ+ youth centre in this quiet city located about three hours North of Toronto has been under siege with death threats and extremist anti-LGBTQ+ bullying for the past two weeks ago after an announcement of its youth drag show was made viral by the far right right-wing anti-LGBTQ+ Libs of Tik-Tok social media account.

In fact the flow of hate washing over this small centre has been virtual tsunami that caused the Board of Directors of OutLoud North Bay LGBTQ+ Centre and its director and founder Seth Compton to postpone that show which was slated to occur today.

CTV Northern Ontario Digital journalist Chelsea Papineau reported that Compton told Anne-Marie Mediwake of CTV Your Morning in an interview; “This is stuff you see in documentaries. This is stuff that you see in movies, you know, on the news in other countries. You just don’t feel like you’re going to be a victim of it.” 

“And I think I’m holding myself together pretty good, but now I’ve got kids asking if the windows are bullet-proof. Or I have parents asking me if I have a plan set in place for safety if we have gunmen show up. Like this is just stuff, like even as a parent, it’s not stuff that I think about in a small northern community. So I’m heartbroken,” he added.

Reporting on the story a week ago when the outbreak of rage and hate was first directed at OutLoud North Bay, mostly in the form of online abuse much of which came from the United States, CTV Northern Ontario journalist Eric Taschner told the Blade that the levels of animosity and the hate expressed were unlike any seen prior and noted that there were hate-filled ugly posts from nations way beyond even the United States.

OutLoud North Bay is a members only safe space for LGBTQ+ youth and Compton, a 47-year-old trans man, told CTV Northern Ontario hate being directed toward the group is exactly why the space is needed.

The group is youth-led and the idea for a youth drag show came from one of the teen members, Compton said.

“It’s geared to the kids that pay to be there and we offer programming and we create events for them. We do cosplay events, we’ve had Halloween parties, so we’ve had opportunity for kids to dress up before,” he said.

“Our mandate, as a charity, is to support all youth and their identities. I need to be able to let the kids express themselves and that’s what this space is about.”

The level of abuse and hate also contained death threats triggering the involvement of Canadian law enforcement. North Bay Police Service Inspector Jeff Warner told reporters in a briefing last week that police officials are “aware of the offensive and hateful comments OutLoud has received via social media” and that his department is “deploying resources.”

CTV Northern Ontario’s Papineau noted that the community of North Bay is celebrating Pride week this year Sept. 14 – 18 and preparations are already underway.

“I think it’s important to continue to fight for who we are and it sucks that I can’t walk the streets feeling safe, you know,” Compton told CTV.

“So many trans folks have been murdered just based on their identity and it needs to stop. We need to teach our kids. They’re our future so we need to be able to move forward with love and acceptance.”

Reflecting on the tsunami of hateful abusive comments directed at OutLoud North Bay Compton said: “I think what happened was some of our youth are in charge of creating some media content and we pulled an image from the internet I guess that had some drag history to it in the United States with a youth down there and that created a huge storm of stuff on its own.”

The North Bay sexual violence support centre Amelia Rising posted a statement of support for OutLoud North Bay on Thursday afternoon.

“Recently, OutLoud North Bay was the target of an organized online hate campaign designed to shame and discourage the centre and their work. Amelia Rising believes that hate and threats should not be tolerated in our community,” the statement said.

“We recognize the positive impacts organizations like OutLoud have in supporting the mental health and wellness of the 2SLGBTQ+ youth and stand in support of all programs that celebrate our community’s diversity.”

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Canadian LGBTQ+ youth centre attacked by extremist Libs of Tik-Tok

The hateful messaging targeting the LGBTQ+ youth centre includes death threats and other violent comments on social media

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Photo Credit: OutLoud North Bay

NORTH BAY, Ontario, Canada – The LGBTQ+ youth centre in this quiet city located about three hours North of Toronto is currently under siege with death threats and extremist anti-LGBTQ+ bullying. In fact the flow of hate washing over this small centre is a virtual tsunami.

The striking aspect to all of this ugly vitriol is that a massive percentage is coming from online, in text, voice mail messages and comments left on the centre’s social media accounts- outside of Canada.

CTV Northern Ontario journalist Eric Taschner reported Friday that the catalyst was a post two days earlier by the right-wing anti-LGBTQ+ Libs of Tik-Tok social media accounts that contained the announcement by OutLoud North Bay Centre for its scheduled youth drag show, slated for July 15. 

What happened next was beyond shocking Taschner told the Blade in a phone call Saturday afternoon. In fact the hateful actions by the outside sources has involved the North Bay Police Service and badly scared the centre’s youth as well as overwhelmed its director Seth Compton.

Speaking to CTV Northern Ontario, Compton said his staff and even youth who attend the space have been targeted.

“I got up at 4 a.m. to thousands of emails, tweets, messages on social media platforms that were so discriminatory and full of hate,” Compton said Friday, fighting back tears. “The average person wouldn’t be able to bear that … Never in my 47 years have I ever experienced this.”

The messages and comments include a range of obscene accusations and comments, he said.

“People are sharing my personal photo saying I’m a pedophile and adults here should be tossed into a wood chipper,” Compton said. “Kids have received messages that they’re groomed and parents have received messages that they’re child abusers.”

Compton briefly texted with the Blade Saturday noting: “I can send you our media release. Now that I’ve had a minute. I don’t know if I can add to what took place yesterday. I’m emotionally broken. I am an advocate but I’m human too and need a minute.  I’m afraid to draw any more attention-  because ‘Libs of Tik-Tok’ have seemed to move on to something new. The hate and harassment hasn’t stopped but I couldn’t handle a second wave of hate to that extent. My focus moving forward is the kids. We need to keep them safe.”

CTV’s Taschner told the Blade that the levels of animosity and the hate expressed were unlike any seen prior and noted that there were hate-filled ugly posts from nations way beyond even the United States.

Earlier this Spring, The Washington Post’s reporter Taylor Lorenz confirmed that Chaya Raichik is behind formerly anonymous ‘Libs of TikTok.’ The influential anti-LGBTQ account has has been trademarked as a “news reporter service” by a Republican operative, although the Washington Post notes that “Raichik has claimed to run the account alone.”

In a profile written by Slate magazine’s Jeremy Stahl, reported that Raichik, a Brooklyn, New York real estate agent, “has become a powerful voice in the culture wars, pushing discourse designed to demonize supporters of LGBTQ rights as sexually predatory “groomers” of children.”

The account has been promoted by podcast host Joe Rogan, it’s been featured in the New York Post, the Federalist, the Post Millennial and a slew of other right-wing news sites. Meghan McCain has retweeted it. The online influencer Glenn Greenwald has amplified it to his 1.8 million Twitter followers while calling himself the account’s “Godfather.”

Last April, Raichik appeared anonymously on Tucker Carlson’s show to complain about being temporarily suspended for violating Twitter’s community guidelines. Fox News often creates news packages around the content that Libs of TikTok has surfaced.

Slate also noted in its piece that Raichik has also made a name for herself by helping to blow up fights within school systems and among teachers and students, even getting a number of teachers removed from their jobs.

More problematic however is that Raichik is inspiring a virtual army of anti-LGBTQ+ adherents including the White Supremacist group, the Proud Boys, to take direct action against these events. Over the course of this past Pride Month alone, the Proud Boys have disrupted over ten LGBTQ+ events ranging from Drag Queen Story hours to Pride events.

In a column a week ago, Blade columnist James Finn pointed out that the Proud Boys have particularly targeted family Pride events, succeeding in having several postponed or cancelled through acts of disruption designed to sow fear and even terror.

In one highly publicised incident in the Northern California city of Woodland, the Proud Boys attempted to enter a bar & restaurant hosting an all-ages drag show. However, their efforts were stymied by bar patrons who defended the entrance and pepper-sprayed the white supremacists.

“Fuck you, pedophile motherfuckers!” shouted the masked man as patrons of the Mojo Lounge pepper sprayed him to stop him and other members of the Proud Boys from forcing their way inside.

A year ago in February of 2021, Canada’s public safety minister, Bill Blair, announced the addition of the Proud Boys, an organization founded in 2016 by a Canadian living in the U.S and two neo-Nazi networks, Atomwaffen and The Base, to Canada’s terror entity list.

While The Proud Boys has not been identified as a component entity of the attack on the North Bay OutLoud youth centre, a senior FBI source told the Blade Saturday evening that “it was highly likely-in fact probable, that individuals who are either members of the The Proud Boys or affiliated in some way are involved.”

Back in Northern Ontario OutLoud staff and the community continue to scramble to create a buffer and a safety zone for their kids CTV reported.

Photo Credit: OutLoud North Bay

North Bay Pride CEO Jocelyn Green said the organization is working with OutLoud to support the staff and youth in the city.

“I’m absolutely abhorred and disgusted,” Green said. “I can’t believe this kind of hate still exists. It’s like we’ve gone backwards in time.” Compton is calling on the community for its support during this troubling time.

“We need to come together as a community because this is something that not only happens worldwide,” he said. “It’s happening right here in our community.”

The local police service is actively investigating the tsunami of hate speech and ugly homophobic diatribes CTV’s Taschner told the Blade.

North Bay Police Service Inspector Jeff Warner told reporters in a briefing that police officials are “aware of the offensive and hateful comments OutLoud has received via social media” and that his department is “deploying resources.”

“We are going to watch the comments and if any of them cross the line into criminal activity we will act for sure.”

Warner was asked what that line would be.

“If comments or actions turn into what is chosen a hate crime for a designated group in the community, we take those investigations very seriously. We will investigate those thoroughly,” he said.

The most prominent slurs center on accusations that LGBTQ people and their allies are pedophiles, using the word “grooming,” which the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children defines as when “someone builds a relationship, trust, and emotional connection with a child or young person so they can manipulate, exploit and abuse them.”

The term has been weaponized online, and it now appears almost constantly on many social media platforms. Data from the social media platform Reddit analyzed by Jeremy Blackburn, an assistant professor of computer science at Binghamton University in New York who studies online extremism, found about a 100 percent increase since the beginning of the year in discussion of “grooming” in conjunction with various LGBTQ slurs starting in early March and accelerating in mid-to-late March.

Inspector Warner was also asked by reporters how hard it would be to find the sender of these messages.

“When it is online activity, they are difficult to investigate. They are not impossible – we do have resources and we can liaison with other policing agencies that have the expertise in tracking down where some of these comments originate.”

Warner then voiced his displeasure over the youth centre being a target of hate.

“It is disappointing. OutLoud has been supporting the youth in the community since 2019. It is a safe place for the youth to go.  OutLoud is committed to the mental health and well-being of the youth in the community. It is just disappointing to see the hateful, hurtful comments directed towards the youth.”

Watch CTV Northern Ontario’s story here.

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