The Rainbow Times’ editor shares introspective thoughts following the Salem Mass. explosion of the publication’s newspaper box.
By: Nicole Lashomb, Editor-in-Chief
SALEM, Mass.—On the morning of August 23 at approximately 1:20 a.m., explosives detonated The Rainbow Times’ newspaper box in downtown Salem, Mass. After various incidents of documented vandalism toward our street boxes leading up to this explosion, the Salem Police Department has deemed this a targeted hate crime and it is being investigated as such. No other local newspaper boxes—free or otherwise—have been touched.
In the days following, as we drove through the very intersection where the explosion occurred, we were we were incredibly humbled and overcome by emotion by the endless outpouring of support from Salem residents and visitors.
A heartfelt and endless thanks to Mayor Kim Driscoll, city officials and the North Shore Alliance of Gay and Lesbian Youth, nAGLY, who worked together to string a series of rainbow flags from one side of the street to the other while also providing them to residents and business to display at their locations and homes as a symbol of support for our LGBTQ community. I have never felt as validated and as appreciated personally and professionally as I have in the city of Salem. I saw a city that said, “We stand with you.” As tears streamed down my face, I realized just how fortunate we are not only as an LGBTQ publication, but also as an LGBTQA community here in Salem and throughout New England.
Although nAGLY generously purchased these pride flags and did not require a donation to provide them to locals, we highly urge our readers and community members to make a donation to them. Our LGBTQ youth are our future and nAGLY is absolutely indispensable.
This month is also National Suicide prevention month. Although there is a great deal of work to be done on behalf of the LGBTQ community and other marginalized groups still, this experience has reinforced the concept that as a community, we are not alone and neither are you.
As a symbol of our solidarity and unwavering commitment to our community, we gathered on August 28 with Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll, City Councilors Josh Turiel, David Eppley, Beth Gerard and Elaine Milo, State Rep. Paul Tucker, Salem No Place for Hate Chair Jeff Cohen, nAGLY’s Steve Harrington, and a multitude of community leaders and members that I wish I could fit into this column—to resurrect & unveil another newspaper box at the very site of the explosion. Well over 100 people stood by our side that night as we all “reclaimed” a city we love.
Sincere thanks to each and every one of you that stood with us then and still do today. A special thanks to “Tom” the Tour Guide of the Salem Witches who personally handed me a candle that read “true justice” and shielded our new box with the candlelight of “protection.” Aurora Vietnamese Cuisine also generously offered a $100 gift certificate to the person that helps find the criminals that committed the act. We are ever so grateful.
This attack on the The Rainbow Times’ newspaper box is not about The Rainbow Times. It is about what The Rainbow Times represents—inclusion not only of our LGBTQ and allied community but the countless intersections of our varied identities—in Salem and throughout New England, nationally and internationally.
This month we honor Hispanic Heritage as we continue to fight for immigration reform, better access to services and fair representation in government and institutions. We continue to forge ahead with our mission and vision of inclusion. Until we have an equal voice and equal representation, and no intersection of our identities are oppressed, we will be here.
Regardless of the cowardly actions of 7 individuals that gathered in the veil of the darkness with hatred in their hearts, collectively, we rose up and stood united in the face of adversity, sending a message to the perpetrators and the world that we too are #OneSalem.
While law enforcement continues to conduct its investigation, the Fire Marshall’s office will be providing a $5,000 reward to anyone with information leading to an arrest in connection with The Rainbow Times’ box explosion. If you have any information linked to this crime, please contact Salem Police Detective Kevin St. Pierre at 978-744-0171, ext. 179.
In the meantime, we carry on. We will not be silenced. We will never cower to the actions of vandals that target any marginalized group under any circumstance. We will not be censored. We will not be defeated. We. Will. Stand. Tall.