'We have to keep going.' NC LGBTQ advocates react following Colorado club shooting

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Tuesday, November 22, 2022
NC LGBTQ advocates react to recent violence
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As investigators in Colorado continue to learn more about Saturday night's shooting at a Club Q, members of the LGBTQ community are sharing their reactions.

As investigators in Colorado continue to learn more about Saturday night's shooting at a Club Q, members of the LGBTQ community are sharing their reactions.

"I was just shocked and saddened, but while we're here I just have to say I can't believe it's still happening and also I'm not really surprised anymore," said J. Clapp, Executive Director of the LGBTQ Center of Durham.

Five people were killed and 25 others injured in the attack, which was stopped by guests who charged towards the shooter, identified by police as 22 year-old Anderson Aldrich.

"There's more and more information coming to light every day. With the previous bomb threat that the individual made. His ability to evade the Colorado Red Flag Law," said Fred Burton, Executive Director of the Ontic Center for Protective Intelligence.

Burton is referring to Aldrich's arrest in 2021, after he allegedly made a bomb threat. However, officials told ABC News that the case does not appear to have been adjudicated, meaning the arrest may not have appeared on his background check.

Suspect facing murder, hate crime charges in Club Q, Colorado Springs shooting

The attack is the latest mass shooting in the United States, as venues work to protect guests and staffers.

"You can bring in armed or unarmed security officers with a presence, you can hire off-duty officers or troopers at times for events and so forth. But for the most part that can be cost-prohibitive for a small business owner," said Burton.

He stressed the importance of staying aware of your surroundings, and having an exit strategy, especially in crowded areas.

"When you walk into a venue, whether it be a closed bar for example, or event, think about your methods of escape, God forbid if there's some sort of incident, or a fire, or alarm that goes off. Know how to get out, not necessarily the way that you actually entered either. Take a quick glance around the location about how you'd actually get out, and the moment you think something doesn't look right, leave," said Burton.

Burton encouraged people to speak up should they see or hear any threats.

"These are tough, tough calls to make. Say something, because the system is geared for intervention. The system is geared for mitigation," Burton said.

J. Clapp, who also performs in drag shows, said they focus security measure on de-escalation and intervention.

"To have friends who have been protested by Proud Boys, friends whose entire performances have been cancelled because someone was screaming vitriol from the audience, it's scary," said J. Clapp.

They believe negative attention on drag events have escalated in recent years, which she attributes to reactionary politics.

"I know things have changed. And I'm not saying that I'm going to stop living my life to the fullest, but I'm cognizant of what's happening around me," said J. Clapp.

Despite the rhetoric, J. Clapp discussed the value of visibility, especially for youth. A 2019 report from The Trevor Project found "LGBTQ youth who report having at least one accepting adult were 40% less likely to report a suicide attempt in the past year."

"There's a lot of work to be done, I know in this country. And I know that this needs to stop. But right now, we're going to keep showing up because there are people whose lives will be saved by seeing us exist, by knowing there's still good in the world. So we have to keep going," said J. Clapp.