Seattle’s Gay Bars Remain Defiant Throughout Poison Threat

Death threats fail to make an impact on Seattle’s gay bars and gay friendly establishments, as revellers drink in defiance of written warnings made anonymously to eleven bars throughout the Capitol Hill district that drinks may be spiked with ricin.

Police are investigating the threats received last Tuesday in letters which said, “I have in my possession approximately 67 grams of ricin with which I will indiscriminately target at least five of your clients.”

The letters were sent to: C.C. Attle’s, The Crescent Tavern, Neighbours, Purr, The Cuff, R Place, The Seattle Eagle, Re-bar, The Elite, Madison Pub and The Wildrose Tavern.

Many bars posted large warning signs to patrons to not leave their drinks unattended, but other than this, have remained resolute in their message that the threats shouldn’t stop people having a good time.

“We are not going to be terrorized,” social activist Alison Luying said, organizer of last Friday’s pub crawl to further embody the defiant mood. The threats were made to bars specifically in the Capitol Hill district, a location of arts and culture, but partygoers received large scale support and praise from the community for not being intimidated.

Meanwhile, locals have praised the bars for taking the threat seriously without giving in to fear-mongering. Whilst the letter made no obvious mention of targeting homosexuals specifically, the police said that they are working with federal forces to apprehend the individual(s) responsible, and are treating the threats as a hate crime.

Notes were also sent to the newspaper The Stranger asking the paper to “be prepared to announce the deaths of approximately 55 individuals all of whom were patrons of the following establishments on a Saturday in January.” It was also reported that the letters contained quotations from A Display of Mackerel by out gay writer Mark Doty.

This led some to speculate that the threat may have come from someone inside the gay community itself, a so called “self-hater.” The quotation read,
“The targets won’t care much that they’ll be dead and nearly frozen, just as, presumably, they didn’t care that they were living.” The threat has turned a piece  written by Doty after the death of his partner to AIDS into a vengeful warning.

The letter ends, “I could take this moment to launch into a diatribe about my indignation towards the gay community,” and then goes on to add, “however, I think the deaths will speak for themselves.”

The letter also shows an understanding of ricin’s toxicity going beyond common knowledge, saying that doctors will likely mistake the effects of the poison for the flu virus, since the poison first presents symptoms, including vomiting and diarrhoea, within a twelve hour period, only later progresses to hallucinations, seizures and eventual fatality.

Ricin exposure isn’t necessarily fatal, but there is no antidote. The poison can be derived from castor beans* (thanks to Janet G. for the correction).  

Police have yet to make arrests. They are “hopeful,” though.

To read one of the letters for yourself, click here.

With thanks to chethan shankar for the Seattle skyline image, used under the creative commons attribution license.


Mike Donnelly
Mike Donnelly9 years ago

Janet: The Northwest isn't any more "progressive" than anywhere else. This is where Ted Bundy got his start as a serial killer - in the vicinity of Seattle, Washington. There's always been an undercurrent of reactionary thought in America in all 50 states. Some just hide it better than others.

Anthony F.
Anthony F.9 years ago

What the real threat to society is would be uneducated people like patricia, and all of the other people who like to protest against gays who go behind closed doors and blinds and have gay relations....

Patricia N.
Patricia N9 years ago

The real threat to our society Patricia are religious zealots who want to impose their ideals on the world. This includes all religions and is the cause of the terrorist action and the wars which are plaguing our world today.

Deborah C.
Debbie Cazares9 years ago

Patricia - I am from California, Prop 8 BARELY passed (and only because of lying, hate mongering influences from outisde the state). ALL people have the right to be safe and enjoy equal rights regardless of something as insignificant as their sexual preference.

Alii B.
Alii B9 years ago

Patricia, get help. You don't know what you are talking about. The gays have never been a threat to any society, the hate-filled, war-mongering ones, those full of blind misinformation are the dangerous ones.

Tracy M.
Tracy d9 years ago

Maybe the police should look at the small minded nutcase on this blog Patricia HO mofo. Really ? I pity your lack of education.

Susan C.
Susan C9 years ago

Patricia, it is so sad there is so much hate in you. Gays, like everyone else, are simply people. I know, my son is gay and he is the kindest, most loving person who is just like everyone else, except for his sexual preference.
You need help and I wish you well.

Janet G.
Janet G9 years ago

Ricin comes from CASTOR BEANS, not kidney beans, as the article states. Still, this situation is very disturbing because I have always felt that the Northwest was so much more progressive than other parts of the country. I'm sorry to see that such biased and hateful people have infiltrated that area as well. Gays must stand firm and strong against such mini tyrants and not let them rule them through fear.

Nia N.
Nia N.9 years ago

Hate crimes are all evil. We must protect human life whether one is gay or straight, in the womb or outside the womb.

Nia N.
Nia N.9 years ago

All hate crimes are evil. We must protect human life- whether you are gay or straight, in the womb or outside.