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Tempe coffee shop closes due to bomb threat during drag event

Brick Road Coffee closed down Sunday morning after receiving an alleged bomb threat. The coffee shop was hosting a drag event.

TEMPE, Ariz. — A Tempe coffee shop has been forced to close temporarily after receiving a bomb threat during a drag story hour event Sunday morning.

Brick Road Coffee, an LGBTQ+-owned and friendly business, became the target of protests and harassment over the weekend. 

The store was holding a story hour event hosted by a drag queen that had drawn the attention of the far-right extremist group, the Proud Boys. Brick Road Coffee confirmed on Twitter that they were aware of plans to protest the event, and had staffed additional security in preparation.

Roughly 20 minutes into the event, around 10:20 a.m., the coffee shop received a bomb threat over the internet, the Tempe Police Department confirmed. 

Police said no one was injured, and no bombs have been found.

Officers were on the scene at the coffee shop when the threat was received, and the incident is still being investigated. 

Police confirmed Proud Boys were "in the area" when the incident happened but could not inside the business. 

Brick Road Coffee declined to provide public comment under the advice of the police.

Come on out for our first Story Hour of the year tomorrow morning! @dragstoryhouraz & @divaminor have some incredible...

Posted by Brick Road Coffee on Saturday, February 18, 2023

Phoenix Pride spokesperson Jeremy Helfgot said Sunday's reading at the coffee shop was about Black History Month. Now he can't believe what it turned into.

“It is just utterly shameful that it had to come to that,” Helfgot said.

Across the Valley, Helfgot said these types of threats against LGBTQ+ members and businesses have increased over the years. Adding recent legislation introduced by Arizona lawmakers against drag shows and similar events doesn't help the issue.

“The age we are living in, I’d hope that we’d be past that and here we are yet again,” Helfgot said.

Police said the FBI has taken over the investigation. 

Officials release statements

On Monday, state Rep. Greg Stanton stopped by the coffee shop to show support. 

On Monday Mayor Corey Woods issued the following statement:

"This Sunday, I visited one of our local businesses after a bomb threat was called in by a hate group during a drag story hour. Let me be completely clear - no person or group has a right to create chaos and spread hate in our community. Tempe Police and the Federal Bureau of Investigation are actively investigating this incident.

In just a couple of years, the business that was targeted has hosted public forums, raised funds for several non-profits and so much more. Their events are always well-attended, open to everyone and intended to bring people together.

This inclusive spirit has led to numerous recognitions and accolades, including Neighborhood Business of the Year after being nominated by Tempe residents due to their incredible local involvement. Just last month, they were honored with an MLK Diversity Award. In addition, they are active in Tempe Leadership.

In Tempe we celebrate, respect and protect our diverse communities and businesses. We do not tolerate hate toward our LGBTQ community and we stand up for the people and businesses who champion inclusion. My office is committed to advancing and advocating for a community of kindness, compassion, and understanding for everyone." 

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