MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — An event called Drag Queen Story Time, that was scheduled for Saturday at the Morgantown Public Library has been cancelled as a result of the readers receiving threats of violence against them.
On a post on the Morgantown Public Library’s Facebook page, library officials state that “due to multiple threats of violence against the volunteer readers, …[the event] is cancelled,” and said that the event would be replaced with a reading by library staff.
Paul Liller, one of the readers who was scheduled to read that day said that the event had been planned months prior, with library staff and others excited by the idea of the event.
Liller also said that due to the event’s nature, he and the other reader were anticipating a negative reaction from a few people, and, because of this, he said the readers and library staff worked with the Morgantown Police Department to do a “security tour” and make a security plan in case violence occurred during the event.
Plans also called for police officers to stand out front of the building in case of rallies, one officer was to be placed in the lobby, as well as other officers staffed throughout the library to prevent anything from happening, Liller said.
There was also a plan in place to have two ticketed readings for 24 families at a time, according to Liller, intended to help the process move along more quickly and keep the readers, parents, children, library staff, and law enforcement as safe as possible.
But that all changed on Thursday, when Liller received direct threats from a man on Facebook, those posts written as they appear state:
“I know where you live now who’s out side your home”
“That’s what I will do you wanted to know” along with an image stating “no trespassing” “violators will be shot, survivors will be shot again”
And the final post linked multiple stories with Liller’s name in them as well as a link to a story saying an actor sharing Liller’s name had died, then posted “The men the work with me when I was 16 I know you guys can put a stop to will you please do this for me I know you have the power to do this Do it to save the kids.”
After learning about those posts, Liller said he and the other reader scheduled to read at the event met with police officers and showed them the screenshots. Police told Liller that there wasn’t enough evidence for a prosecutor to file a warrant at the time, but did offer to put the information in the police report. Liller and the other reader declined, but opted to add the information to the call log in case something did happen in the future, according to Liller.
With the perceived credibility of the threat, Liller said, “We decided to cancel the reading event out of concern for safety — not for ourselves, but for the children, parents, law enforcement and library staff who would be present at the event. No side should see this cancellation as a win, because the threat of violence against children, for any purpose, is never acceptable.”
As a result of the event, the man who posted the threats appears to have had his Facebook page suspended. A request for information from the Morgantown Police Department has not yet been received.
According to social media accounts for the West Virginia University LGBTQ+ Center, a rally in support of the drag queens is planned for 10:00 a.m., Saturday morning, in front of the library.