A private event scheduled to take place at a Nebraska children’s museum this Saturday was canceled after both the event organizer and museum started to receive threats, the Lincoln Journal Star reported.
The event — a drag queen story hour — was scheduled to take place after the museum closed on Saturday, the news outlet reported. The event host, the LGBT group OutNebraska, had planned to rent out the museum and hold the event for several hours.
“We are very saddened to say this event has been cancelled due to the growing safety concerns that have been created by some in our community. Over the past few days, the Lincoln Children's Museum and event host OutNebraska have both received an overwhelming number of threats of violence against our organizations, many going as far as death threats,” the museum wrote in an Instagram post.
“The Lincoln Children’s Museum is an equal opportunity facility and supports inclusivity. Cancelling this event and not having the children in our building to create, discover, and learn through the power of play breaks our heart, but the safety of ALL of our visitors, our staff, our exhibits and our building is and always will be our priority,” the museum added in its social media post.
The Lincoln Police Department told The Hill in a statement that police officers started to investigate a possible threats complaint made by the Lincoln Children’s Museum around 4 p.m. local time on Sunday.
“Museum officials explained they received communication from unknown individuals about an event to be held at the museum by OutNebraska, and they felt the communication threatened the safety and wellbeing of the attendees,” the police department told The Hill in a statement.
“LPD is investigating all leads, including whether these threats were directed at OutNebraska and its ties to the Lincoln LGBTQ+ community,” the department added, saying that the investigation was ongoing.
No arrests have been made at this time.
In a statement, OutNebraska executive director Abbi Swatsworth said that the "decision to cancel our event was not made lightly" and that "it involved a frank conversation about the safety of our families."
Swatsworth thanked the community for the outpouring of support that the organization received over the last few days. She said even though the event had to be rescheduled, "we are not discouraged."
"The support our community has shown heartens us to continue our mission to educate, advocate and celebrate in service of LGBTQ+ Nebraskans," Swatsworth added.
According to Mandy Haase-Thomas, director of operations and engagement at the museum, the event was not sponsored by the museum, the Journal Star reported. Due to increasing concerns regarding the safety of the private event’s attendees, the museum’s executive director, Tara Knuth, said that the event was canceled, the news outlet noted.
Lincoln Mayor Gaylor Baird responded to the news in a statement on Tuesday saying, “Playing politics with people’s lives is never acceptable. Misinformation spread about a private event at the Lincoln Children's Museum inspired threats and fueled hatred and fear. All threats are being investigated by the Lincoln Police Department, and, to our LGBTQ friends and neighbors, know you are loved and welcome in our city.”
The Hill has reached out to the Lincoln Children’s Museum for additional comment.
Updated: 8:51 p.m.