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Target faces bomb threats amid LGBTQ+ controversy

Staff and customers at several Target locations were evacuated on Friday after bomb threats were made at select stores across the country as controversy continues to grow over the company’s LGBTQ+ merchandise.

CBS News affiliate WOIO in Cleveland, Ohio, received an email at 12:26 p.m. Friday warning of bombs that had been placed in five different Target locations near the city. According to a screenshot of the email, which was published by the outlet, the threat was made in response to Target’s decision to remove its LGBTQ+ pride collection from its shelves earlier this week.

“Target is full of…cowards who turned their back on the LGBT community and decided to cater to the homophobic right wing redneck bigots who protested and vandalized their store,” read the email. “We won’t stand idly by as the far right continues to hunt us down.”

The Target logo is displayed on shopping carts outside of a Target store on January 15, 2020, in San Francisco, California. Several Target locations were evacuated on Friday after bomb threats were made in response to the controversy surrounding the company’s LGBTQ+ collection.
Justin Sullivan/Getty

WOIO’s staff contacted local police departments as well as the Cleveland FBI regarding the threatening letter. According to a release from the Jackson Township Police Department, police dispatch received calls around 12:40 p.m. from both WOIO and WEWS, an ABC News affiliate based in Cleveland, regarding a potential bomb threat at a Target in their county.

Jackson Township officers evacuated and searched the store along with a bomb-sniffing dog from the Stark Country Sheriff’s office, read the release. According to a report from The Repository in Canton, Ohio, no bombs were found at the location and store operations resumed around 3:15 p.m.

WOIO reported that threats were also made at four other Target locations in Boardman, Ohio, Niles, Ohio, and Monaca, Pennsylvania.

Separate threats were made to several Target locations in Utah as well, reported CBS News affiliate KUTV, including stores in Layton, Salt Lake, Taylorsville and Provo. According to Layton Police Sergeant John Ottesen, who was cited in KUTV’s report, officers began investigations after two local news stations received emails alerting them about the bomb threats.

Ottesen said that the threatening email, which was three sentences long, referenced Target’s pride collection and was reportedly sent from a “bogus email address.”

“The safety of our team members and guests is our top priority,” a Target spokesperson told Newsweek on Friday when asked about the recent bomb threats. “Law enforcement investigated these claims and determined our stores are safe. Our stores are currently open and operating regular hours.”

Target made the decision to remove its pride merchandise from its storefronts after the company received widespread backlash and calls for boycotts. A release from the company on Wednesday said that choice was made after it “experienced threats impacting our team members’ sense of safety and well-being while at work.”

The company is one of several that have been recently targeted by conservative groups for supporting the LGBTQ+ community. The first widespread boycott calls came after Anhesuer-Busch sent a commemorative can to transgender influence Dylan Mulvaney in April.

Earlier this week, conservative Colorado Representative Lauren Boebert also called for a boycott against North Face over its ad campaign featuring a drag queen. Georgia Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene has also joined calls to boycott the company.

Update 5/26/23 7:22 p.m. ET: This story has been updated with additional comment from Target.

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