Police investigated bomb threats at Target stores in Utah after the retail chain was alerted by local media that it received emails targeting LGBTQ collections celebrating Pride Month.
Salt Lake City Police Communications Director Brent Weisberg told USA TODAY that officers worked with Target and determined there was no credible threat to the two Target stores in Salt Lake City.
Weisberg said in a statement, “Officers will continue to patrol the neighborhoods around the target locations in Salt Lake City with an abundance of caution.”
Weisberg declined to provide details about the threats, citing the ongoing investigation.
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“We encourage anyone who sees anything suspicious to call 9-1-1 immediately,” he said.
In a statement to USA TODAY, Target said its stores are open and operating as normal.
“Law enforcement has investigated these claims and determined that our stores are safe,” the company said.
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Sgt. John Otsen with Layton Police told CBS affiliate KUTV 2News that bomb threats have been made to Target stores in Layton, Salt Lake, Taylorsville and Provo.
Police said they began investigating after two local news stations received an email alerting them to the threat. The threats mentioned Target’s Pride merchandise.
The threat was three sentences long and came from a “fake email address”, Sgt Ottesen said.
Target has been hit with conservative backlash over merchandise it carries to promote Pride Month. The Target website carries hundreds of Pride products, including t-shirts, books and furniture. Pride Month begins in June.
After critics posted videos of them attacking LGBTQ pride displays and confronting employees at Target stores, the company held emergency meetings and decided to remove some Pride merchandise from being seen in stores.
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At issue was misinformation about “tack-friendly” swimwear that allows trans women who haven’t had gender-affirming surgery to hide their penises. Some social media accounts falsely claim that swimwear is being sold in children’s sizes.
Conservatives also seized on Target’s association with Abpralen, which they say contains satanic motifs. Target sells Abprallen sweatshirt with snake: “Cure transphobia, not trans people.”
Hundreds of bills targeting LGBTQ people, especially transgender people, have been introduced by Republican lawmakers in statehouses across the country, seeking to control which bathrooms they can use, what medical care they can get and what sports teams they can play on.
Prominent GOP figures such as Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is campaigning for the Republican presidential nomination, have raised divisive issues such as gender transition care for minors.
LGBT groups have condemned Target for bowing to political pressure.
“Extremist groups and individuals work to divide us, and ultimately, they don’t want rainbow products gone, they want us gone,” said Kelly Robinson, president of the Human Rights Campaign, in a statement. For the past decade, the LGBTQ+ community has celebrated Pride at Target – it’s time for Target to stand with us and double down on their commitment to us.
On Twitter, California Governor Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, accused Target CEO Brian Cornell of “selling out the LGBTQ+ community to bigots.”