Police respond to a bomb threat at a Utah bookstore ahead of drag event

Tara Lipsyncki, a drag queen who was scheduled to perform at the Salt Lake City bookstore, called the threat “an act of domestic terrorism.”


Salt Lake City police said they evacuated a bookstore and closed off its surrounding roads Sunday after a bomb threat.

Police “received information about a suspicious circumstance at The King’s English Bookstore,” which was treated as a bomb threat, authorities said in a statement Sunday. A police airport division K-9 team evacuated the building and blocked off roads in the surrounding area before determining there was “no threat to the community,” police said. 

Authorities added they are investigating. The bookstore had a drag queen storytelling event scheduled for Sunday morning, according to its social media accounts and website.The events, in which drag performers read children’s books to kids, have increasingly been met with protests from far-right activists in recent months. 

“It disappoints me that our fellow merchants and our neighbors who are so loyal and supportive of the store have to go through this,” Calvin Crosby, a co-owner of The King’s English Bookshop, told NBC affiliate KSL of Salt Lake City. “The right thing to do is to put books into kids’ hands, to those without regular access and to normalize diversity.”

The King's English Bookshop in Salt Lake City. Google

Tara Lipsyncki, a drag performer who was scheduled to read to children at the store Sunday, called the threat “an act of domestic terrorism” and said it was not the first threat of violence she’s received in recent months.

“I will not back down,” she wrote in a post on Instagram on Sunday. She wrote that she would not succumb to such threats and would not stop fighting for a society in which everyone was truly safe.

Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall, a Democrat, condemned the bomb threat and said her office will be working with the bookstore to make sure the event can happen at a future date.

“I cannot say this strongly enough, EVERYONE belongs in Salt Lake City,” she wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter. “The actions today to cause fear at @KingsEnglish around a drag story time event are not welcome here.”

Sunday’s incident comes amid a slew of threats and attacks against LGBTQ people and spaces in recent months.

In late July, O’Shae Sibley, a 28-year-old gay professional dancer, was stabbed to death at a gas station in Brooklyn, New York, in what police later deemed a hate crime. Laura Ann Carleton, a California business owner and mother of nine, was shot and killed in August after someone allegedly took issue with a Pride flag displayed in her clothing store. This month, there have been bomb threats with anti-LGBTQ sentiments made to libraries and schools in several other states, including Illinois, Pennsylvania and California.

On Saturday, police were similarly called to respond to a bomb threat made against the New Haven Pride Center in New Haven, Connecticut, according to a statement the group posted on its Facebook account. 

The Salt Lake City bomb threat also comes amid a nationwide surge in anti-LGBTQ demonstrations, with large parts of the protests aimed at drag events. 

There was an average of 39 anti-LGBTQ protests from June 2022 to May, according to a recent report by the Crowd Counting Consortium, a research group that tracks political protests. That compared with just three protests per month from January 2017 through May 2022, the group found. The report also showed that from June 2022 to May, 46% of the anti-LGBTQ demonstrations were specifically in response to drag events.