A North Carolina brewery was forced to postpone a drag show after receiving a series of death threats through Facebook. Police have identified the perpetrator of these threats as 31-year-old Joseph O’Neal, who allegedly created a fake profile using the name Joe Bruner to threaten UpCountry Brewing.
Once police traced the Facebook account to O’Neal, Transylvania County Sheriff Chuck Owenby said he ultimately turned himself in after being served with a warrant.
“If you’re gonna come for a drag queen, you better be ready for how she comes back.”
One of his posts included a picture of a rifle and declared, “I will die before I let that take place!!!” Another said, “I’ll be damned if I’ll allow a pride celebration in my hometown of Brevard. They may as well consider themselves target practice. I’m not kidding. It’s pure wickedness!!”
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One of the performers told WLOS that the comments led several performers to drop out of the show, and ultimately, the business decided to cancel.
The show was called Unicorns Unite and was supposed to be held on July 29. It was advertised as 18+ and the flyer encouraged attendees to “dress your unicorniest” and “don’t hide your magic.”
On the event’s Facebook page, UpCountry wrote that the decision to postpone was “difficult.”
“While the outpouring of support has lifted our hearts, what was originally intended to be a fun event to raise funds for a local charity instead became overly politicized, and truthfully has grown beyond our capability to properly staff and operate at this time,” its statement said.
“To our supporters, trust that we will be putting together another event in the near future with the proper advance planning and resources to adequately handle the crowd and provide for everyone’s safety.”
The company then asked that people still visit the brewery on July 29 to enjoy some drinks, as 10% of its sales that evening would go to the Transylvania County Rainbow Alliance. It also advertised a GoFundMe page raising money for the organization. The fundraiser states a goal of $500, and over $3,500 has been raised so far.