Kate Estevez, Contributing Photographer

The New Haven Pride Center and the New Haven Police Department received an email on Saturday morning saying that a bomb had been placed and would be activated at 1:00 p.m. in the hundredth block of Orange Street, where the New Haven Pride Center headquarters are located.

Juancarlos Soto, executive director of NHPC, wrote in a statement that the email containing the threat arrived at around 12:20 p.m. in the inbox of Laura Boccadoro, the center’s communications coordinator. 

New Haven Police secured the scene at 12:32 p.m. and ensured that people evacuated the building. Police sweeps did not find a bomb. After going through appropriate “clearance procedures,” the NHPD confirmed that there was no threat present, according to a statement released by Sergeant Cherelle Carr, the NHPD spokesperson. 

“We want to assure everyone that both the New Haven Pride Center and the staff are safe, as are the rest of our neighbors on Orange Street,” the NHPC staff and board of directors wrote in a  statement released shortly after police announced that the scene was safe. The statement also expressed gratitude for the swift action of New Haven’s first responders.

Following Saturday’s bomb threat, the NHPD said that detectives from the Investigative Services Unit as well as the Federal Bureau of Investigation are following up on leads to determine the origins of the email.

The bomb threat was made on the day that the New Haven Pride Block Party was originally scheduled to take place as part of the 26th annual New Haven PRIDE festival. The celebration had been postponed the day prior due to forecasted weather conditions and is now expected to take place in October.

The location and timing of Saturday’s bomb threat raised concerns about the current climate of hostility that marginalized populations, particularly the LGBTQ+ community, face on a day-to-day basis.

“While it is disheartening to witness such acts of hatred, it serves as a stark reminder that LGBTQ+ individuals across the country still face adversity and discrimination every day,” said the NHPC’s statement.

From June 2022 through April 2023, there were over 350 recorded incidents of anti-LGBTQ+ hate and extremism in the United States, according to a report by the Anti-Defamation League

Varying legal standards of proof across different states often make crimes related to LGBTQ+ hate or bias notoriously hard to prosecute. In Connecticut, of the 3,220 violent crimes reported on the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection’s online crime statistics tracking tool, only three were classified as being related to bias or bigotry of some kind, with two of those being linked to sexual orientation bias.

In a joint statement, New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker and Soto recognized Saturday’s events as an “act of hate.” 

Elicker and Soto wrote that they were confident the New Haven Police Department will do “everything they can” to identify and hold accountable the person who emailed the bomb threat.

Carr did not immediately respond to additional questions from the News about the NHPD’s investigation.

“Let this be a testament to our resilience and strength. We refuse to be consumed by fear; instead, we choose to stand taller, united in our purpose,” the NHPC wrote in their statement.

The NHPC continues to service the local LGBTQ+ community, operating from the basement of a building at 84 Orange Street.