Charlotte's Web Thoughts
Charlotte's Web Thoughts
When the Lights Went Out in Moore County

When the Lights Went Out in Moore County

What we know, so far.
(image credit: Daria Kulkova // Getty)

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Last night, two substations in Moore County, NC were fired upon with weapons simultaneously, allegedly to cut power to a local theater hosting a drag show. I say “allegedly” because it hasn’t yet been confirmed by authorities, but it sure would take a hell of a string of coincidences to arrive at any other conclusion.

I’ll get to that in a second, but let’s talk about how folks in this county are being affected by this cowardly act.

As of this afternoon, nearly 45,000 residents of Moore County are without power. There are reports of very heavy traffic as thousands attempt to temporarily relocate to areas outside the county, which has a higher-than-average proportion of retirees.

One resident sent me video of a long traffic jam, with this note: "People trying to leave Moore County. US1 at tramway. Traffic is at a standstill everywhere leaving MoCo."

One resident claimed: "I am in southern pines; one thing I haven’t seen people talk about is the cell service is also down. Verizon especially. Anyone on their network is having trouble making calls/texts/internet etc. AT&T network seems to be working fine. No communication is HUGE."

This is all important to note because of those residents who rely on life-sustaining medical equipment and just had their power go out in a county with a higher-than-average proportion of retirees and elderly residents. This attack has immediately put lives in danger, and despite efforts by local authorities to set up an emergency shelter at the Moore County Sports Complex and what I imagine is a tireless operation by EMS personnel to provide care, it is not out of the question that we could see deaths that result from this power outage.

Local resident Andrew Wilkins wrote a thread of impacts the power outage has had on the community, which you can read here.

At an emergency press conference a few hours ago, a representative from Duke Energy, the local power company, said that during the initial investigation, it was determined there was intentional damage on the substations, and the Sheriff’s Office confirmed firearms had been used to disable them. He said equipment will need to be replaced, "a pretty sophisticated repair with large equipment." Repairs, he said, could take until Thursday.

Moore County schools have announced they will be closed tomorrow, and at the press conference, the Superintendent said those closures could last through Thursday.

Clearly, this is a dangerous and deeply disruptive situation for every resident of Moore County.

Let’s discuss possible motive.

Emily Rainey is a former active duty Army officer who resigned her commission after the Army launched an investigation into her participation in the Jan. 6th attack on the U.S Capitol. Last night, shortly after the power outage began, she posted on Facebook:

"The power is out in Moore County, and I know why."

In a follow-up post, Rainey tagged Sunrise Theater, where the drag show was being held, and wrote “God will not be mocked” above what appears to be a photo of the building last night during the power outage.

Rainey has not been tied by authorities to the attack on the substations, and during the press conference, when asked by a reporter why the Sheriff’s Office had turned up at her home last night, presumably to investigate her claim of knowledge regarding the attack, Sheriff Rob Fields responded: “We had to go interview this young lady and have a word of prayer with her. But it turned out to be false.”

When a reporter asked how this had been verified, the Sheriff simply responded with only three words and nothing further:

“Good law enforcement.”

That’s it. There were no follow-up questions from reporters about what she may know. There were no questions about the specific content of her posts. There were no questions about the oddly thrown-in religious remark, which I suppose can be explained as a reference to her own summary of the event in a follow-up post on her Facebook profile after their visit:

And there were no questions about her leadership of a Facebook group called Moore County Citizens for Freedom, which describes itself as “a non partisan network of Moore County Citizens dedicated to the promotion of conservative values in Moore County, NC through education and activism.”

Two weeks ago, Moore County Citizens for Freedom posted the contact information, including emails and numbers, for local sponsors of the scheduled drag show last night with this simple caption: “You know what to do.”

Meanwhile, within hours after the outage began, while Rainey was posting references to it and claimed knowledge of why it happened, Sarah Fields, the Director of Advocacy for the Texas Freedom Coalition, which is exactly what it sounds like, posted a tweet appearing to endorse the firearms attack on the substations, then edited the tweet to remove an approving hashtag: #ImOkWithIt. You’ll notice, of course, that she left the hashtag #ProtectChildren, implying children were there.

I want to point out a few things:

The organizers of the drag show specifically stated on event fliers that children would not be permitted at the event and all attendees would be required to show ID to satisfy the 18+ restriction.

Both images are merely the fliers with information about the drag show and confirming children were not permitted to attend the eventBoth images are merely the fliers with information about the drag show and confirming children were not permitted to attend the event

I do not point this out to enable the terrible propaganda that drag shows are inherently harmful to children (though there are some shows that are adults-only) but to emphasize that the organizers went out of their way to alleviate any concerns, however unfounded and harmful, expressed by those who irrationally and hatefully oppose drag shows for that claimed reason.

This follows an all-year-long concentrated effort by anti-LGBTQ propagandists to claim drag shows are intended as a tool of indoctrination and evidence that LGBTQ people are inherently pedophiles.

Two weeks ago, there was a mass shooting at a queer bar in Colorado Springs, in which five people were murdered and 25 injured. Despite the suspect’s long history of anti-LGBTQ rhetoric and past violence, his lawyers suddenly claimed he’s nonbinary in what many assume is an effort to troll the LGBTQ community (by mocking self-identification) after murdering five queer people.

Yesterday, in Columbus, armed protestors showed up outside of a drag show, forcing organizers to close it down out of concern for everyone’s safety:

I want to be very clear: we are witnessing a coordinated campaign of violence and intimidation against LGBTQ people, and if it is substantiated that anti-LGBTQ assailants attempted to cut power for 40,000 people in order to have a drag show cancelled--and I suspect it will be--that is the definition of terrorism, and we can expect more acts of violence will be perpetrated against LGBTQ people.

This is all quite terrifying, and so, I want to end this on a note of recognition and pride in those who attended last night’s drag show in Moore County. When the power went out and attendees suspected it was due to sabotage by anti-LGBTQ extremists, instead of leaving the venue out of fear for their safety, they collectively turned on their phone lights to illuminate the stage, so the show could go on. You can watch a video of it below.

Naomi Dix, the hostess of the event, gave a moving impromptu speech reminding attendees that they are loved and should feel pride in their community.

I didn’t see these videos until later this afternoon, and like many who viewed them, I couldn’t stop myself from crying.

I wish those who so blatantly express hatred and threats of violence against LGBTQ people in our country could find the comfort in their own skin that we have in ours, the sense of pride in their insular community that we have in our open community, and the expression of love we have toward anyone that they seem to deny to everyone who falls short of their extremist hatred.

I, of course, will only speak for myself when I say this, as one queer person, but I will say it with a full heart because it’s important: I was lovingly made by God, as I believe to be true for every human being, and I am guided by the instruction of Jesus Christ, emphasizing God’s words in Corinthians, repeated every Sunday in the church that I call home: that our greatest commandment is love.

I wish those who are behind these acts of hatred would have the courage to follow Christ’s instruction, too.

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Charlotte's Web Thoughts
Charlotte's Web Thoughts
Charlotte Clymer is a writer and LGBTQ advocate. You've probably seen her on Twitter (@cmclymer). This is the podcast version of her blog "Charlotte's Web Thoughts", which you can subscribe to here: