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Holy crap!

From the Seattle Times:

Eleven gay bars in Seattle were sent letters Tuesday threatening ricin attacks — in what some are describing as a hate crime.

The anonymous letters say, “I have in my possession approximately 67 grams of ricin with which I will indiscriminately target at least five of your clients. … I expect them to die painfully while in hospital.”

A 12th letter was sent to the alternative weekly The Stranger, according to its Web site. That letter says the paper should be “prepared to announce the deaths of approximately 55 individuals.”

The letter lists the bars as: The Elite, Neighbours, The Wildrose Bar, The Cuff, Purr, The Seattle Eagle, R Place, Re-bar, C.C.Attle’s, Madison Pub and The Crescent. The letter implies the attacks will take place one Saturday this month.

In a statement, the Seattle Police Department said it takes the threat seriously. It has seized the letters and is processing them and is coordinating efforts with the FBI and other federal agencies.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says ricin is a poison found naturally in castor beans that can be deadly if purified and then ingested or inhaled.

Via PortlyDyke at Shakesville, who commented:

See, it doesn’t matter who sent the letters — this is terrorism, pure and simple — and it is terrorism targeted at a specific oppressed population, which is, by definition, a fucking hate crime.

…I was trying to imagine, though, what the response would have been if the same letter were received by, say, eleven churches of a specific denomination. I’m guessing the members of that community would not be saying things like: “Well, we get a death threat a day”, or “well, whatever”, and I’m guessing that next Sunday, there would be a strong police presence in the neighborhood of each of those churches.

I wonder how Changes managed to escape the hit list. Oh crap, I just tipped off the poisoner! But for real, all the bars are clustered on Capitol Hill, so it appears our poisoner hopes to just make some quick rounds all in one night? Zie appears to be acting alone, so perhaps that is why zie has a geographically-restricted hit list, and Changes may be safe because it is in a whole different part of town. Just idle speculation.

As a former resident of Seattle, I have personally patronized a number of the threatened establishments, as do my friends who still live there. Good to know we have no reason to stop watching our backs in 2009, because we frequent(ed) business that cater to LGBT customers. Oh, for our sins I am so ashamed! Thanks to Jesus that this would-be murderer has helped me to see the light! For being queer and associating with other queers in public I must die, and rightly so- it is better that I continue no longer to lead my sinful and purposeless life.

What crap. 2009, you had better shape up fast! Reactions from others?

The LA Times has the story:

Graphic video of Oscar J. Grant III’s death at an Oakland train station has roiled emotions in the Bay Area, leading to a demonstration at Bay Area Rapid Transit district headquarters and calls for more oversight of the agency’s police force.

The family of the 22-year-old father, who was shot to death by a BART police officer early on New Year’s Day, filed a $25-million wrongful death claim against the agency Tuesday.

…Grant had been celebrating New Year’s Eve in San Francisco and was heading back to his East Bay home on a BART train when a fight broke out between two groups of riders about 2 a.m.

BART police met the train at Oakland’s Fruitvale station and ordered passengers — including Grant — onto the platform.

Video taken by spectators with cellphones shows a chaotic scene, with uniformed officers pulling riders out of a train and then shoving one man onto the ground. With the man face down, an officer stands over him, draws his gun and shoots.

…According to the claim filed Tuesday, Grant was unarmed “and offered no physical resistance” to BART officers.

“Mr. Grant, fearing for his life, made a valiant effort to de-escalate the situation by appealing to the officer’s sense of humanity, telling the officer that he had a four-year-old daughter and asking the officer not to taze him,” the claim said. “Witnesses recount that Mr. Grant continuously repeated this prayer for relief to no avail.”

From Racewire: 5 Things You Can Do Right Now.

“They just shot him!”

Another angle

UPDATE: The officer has been identified as Johannes Mehserle.

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