Salem police are investigating an explosion inside a news box for the Rainbow Times, the region’s largest LGBT newspaper, as a possible hate crime, a spokesman said.
“We do believe that the Rainbow Times news box was targeted,” Capt. Conrad Prosniewski said by text Wednesday night.
Police are looking to the public for help in identifying seven individuals, who are shown on a surveillance video, walking toward the box on the Essex Street mall at about 1:19 a.m. on Tuesday. The video, posted on the department’s Facebook page, shows the people, who are dressed in dark clothing, lingering near the box, then run away as it explodes.
“The explosion rocked the downtown area and was heard up to a mile away,” police wrote on Facebook.
The box has been vandalized several nearly 10 times, but it is “uncertain if (the incidents) are connected,” Prosniewski said.
In a statement, Gricel M. Ocasio, the Rainbow Times publisher denounced the most recent act of vandalism on its box.
“We were dismayed and astounded by this vitriolic hate crime that happened to The Rainbow Times,” the statement said, in part. “The Rainbow Times had experienced, for the past three months, various instances in which our news boxes in Salem were being vandalized. The acts were happening often enough that I believe we have close to 10 reports with the Salem PD. However, we didn’t expect the situation to escalate to this level.”
Gricel went on to say that “We, at Rainbow Times will not be censored. We will continue our diligent work and we will not be silenced by ignorance or hatred.”
Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll, who is featured on the cover of the August edition of the monthly newspaper, called the incident a “cowardly act.”
“We are a community that supports each other as neighbors and, even in the face of violence and hatred, today should be no different,” she wrote.
“Fear and hate may cloud the hearts of those committing this act, but it will never, ever characterize this community,” Driscoll wrote.
Anyone with any information is asked to call Det. Kevin St. Pierre at 978-744-0171, ext. 179.