Who Blew Up the Rainbow Times’ Newspaper Box?

The targeting of an LGBT newspaper is being investigated as a hate crime.

Sometimes anti-LGBT feelings are expressed subtly, and sometimes they’re about as subtle as a firework detonated at street level.

That appears to have been the case in Salem this week, as the city is dealing with what looks like a hate crime in its midst. In the early hours of Tuesday morning, police say, a crew of people clad in black blew up a newspaper box for the Rainbow Times, an LGBT publication based in Boston and distributed around New England.

The Salem Police Department wasted little time sharing dramatic security camera footage of the detonation online. In it, a group of seven people linger around the newspaper box, then flee. Moments later, the flash of light from the explosion fills the screen. Since it was distributed yesterday, it’s been viewed more than 75,000 times in a Salem PD Facebook post alone.

It’s pretty stunning, and was apparently incredibly loud.

“The explosion rocked the downtown area and was heard up to a mile away prompting numerous calls to the Salem Police,” the department wrote on Facebook. “We are asking the public’s assistance in helping to identify these individuals.”

The 10-year-old newspaper had recently run a profile of Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll, which appeared on the issue’s front page and referred to Driscoll as an “LGBT champ.”

This was only the latest, and most frightening, act of vandalism the Times has seen over the last few months. According to its publisher, Gricel Martinez Ocasio, who published a lengthy statement on the paper’s website, the Times has filed about 10 reports with the Salem Police Department about news boxes being defaced.

In that statement, Ocasio says she suspects a toxic presidential campaign bears some of the blame for the recent uptick in aggression.

Hatred against our community and any other marginalized community happens everywhere and the progressive city of Salem isn’t an exception. In the current political climate, when a presidential candidate can use inflammatory words and actions—even encouraging violence—towards people of other backgrounds, races, ethnicities, religions, sexual orientations and other identities, then we must prepare ourselves for the inevitable consequences of such violent rhetoric. Most importantly, this is not just an act against The Rainbow Times or the LGBTQ community and its allies, but against the heart of Salem. Anyone could’ve been hurt by this irresponsible and cowardly act and we should all unite as a community to find the perpetrators.

You can read her full response to the vandalism here.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Salem Police Detective Kevin St. Pierre at 978-744-0171 ext.179.