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Blue Iguana Restaurant and Bar in Fair Lakes (via Google Maps)

Fairfax County police are investigating a threat of violence against the Blue Iguana in Fair Lakes and a local drag performer partnered with the restaurant and bar.

The anonymous email sent Saturday morning (Dec. 10) said that “several bombs” had been placed inside the restaurant in the Shops at Fair Lakes (12727 Shoppes Lane) as well as the home of a drag queen who hosts a “Sassy Saturdays Drag Brunch” on the second Saturday of each month, starting Nov. 12.

The email, which got sent to FFXnow, also threatened to “shoot up any drag performers we see there.”

The Fairfax County Police Department confirmed that it was alerted to the threat and had officers on the scene that day.

“Officers searched the building and did not find anything suspicious. Officers remained in the area throughout the day,” the FCPD said. “Detectives are continuing to investigate the threat.”

The department said anyone with information about the incident can contact its detectives at 703-691-2131. Tips can also be submitted anonymously through Crime Solvers by phone (1-866-411-TIPS) and online.

“Anonymous tipsters are eligible for cash rewards of $100 to $1,000 dollars. Please leave contact information if you wish for a detective to follow up with you,” the FCPD said.

Blue Iguana and the company that organized the brunch didn’t return requests for comment by press time.

While no violence occurred in this instance, drag performers and the LGBTQ community have been subjected to a surge in threats, harassment and hate crimes both locally and nationally over the past year.

GLAAD identified 124 incidents in 2022 of protests and threats specifically directed at drag events, a trend that the advocacy group links to a rise in anti-LGBTQ legislation and rhetoric from right-wing politicians, pundits and social media.

Released on Nov. 22, the report didn’t include the Nov. 19 shooting at Club Q in Colorado, since police hadn’t officially declared a motive at that point. The gunman was charged with hate crimes last week for shooting 22 people, killing five of them, during a drag queen’s birthday celebration.

In Fairfax County, police have recorded an escalation of anti-LGBTQ bias incidents and crimes in recent years, with cases jumping from seven in 2017 and five in 2018 to the double digits every year since 2019:

  • 2019 — 10
  • 2020 — 10
  • 2021 — 11
  • 2022 — 14

The department says the threat against Blue Iguana would be classified as a bias crime, which is defined as an unlawful action against a person or property due to their race, religion, ethnic or national origin, disability or sexual orientation.

Earlier this year, a Starbucks in Clifton was vandalized twice and had its Pride flag stolen, and Fairfax County Public Schools had to shut down an Instagram account that targeted LGBTQ students.

Though not a criminal incident, the McLean Community Center drew criticism last year for supporting a “Drag Queen Storytime” event at Dolley Madison Library in June 2021. Opponents equated the event — where drag queens read picture books to kids — to porn or “adult entertainment.”

Drawing on familiar homophobic stereotypes and obscuring drag’s history as a form of personal expression, arguments that drag is inherently sexual and dangerous to kids have taken hold among protestors — including in the threat against Blue Iguana, which accuses the targets of “grooming our children” — and legislators looking to ban minors from events.

Photo via Google Maps

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Fairfax County police car (file photo)

(Updated at 12:30 p.m.) Last week, Fairfax County’s Board of Supervisors authorized a grant that aims to help protect local Jewish organizations from hate crimes.

The Fairfax County Police Department (FCPD) is applying for a $150,000 grant (page 244) from the Department of Criminal Justice Services’ Combating Hate Crime Grant Program. The funding will be used to better secure local congregations against hate crimes.

The application comes amid a notable upswing in antisemitic hate crimes nationwide. A new state report showed a rise in antisemitic harassment and vandalism — though the report also conflates opposition to the Israeli government with antisemitism.

“Generally, while the Commonwealth has not seen antisemitic assaults take place since 2018, there has been an increased frequency of antisemitic harassment and antisemitic vandalism at levels which have remained constant from 2018 to 2021,” the report said. “In 2021, 411 reported antisemitic incidents impacted residents of the Commonwealth. These incidents showed a 71% increase over the 292 reported incidents in 2020.”

The FCPD has recorded eight antisemitic incidents and crimes so far this year, according to data shared with FFXnow. That’s an increase from last year, when there was only one such incident, but it matches the number of reports from 2018 and is lower than 2020 (10 incidents) and 2017 (12 incidents).

Fairfax County releases reports on bias crimes over three-year periods. The latest report, covering 2018-2020, said there had been an uptick in “bias crimes and incidents” in recent years.

“The aggregate total of all bias crimes and incidents for 2018-2020 was 320,” the report said. “This represents a 65.8% increase over the previous 3-year total of 193 incidents encompassing the years 2015-2017.”

Anti-Black bias comprised around 40.6% of the aggregate total. The second most prevalent was a general “other ethnicity/national origin” category at around 11.3%, while anti-Jewish bias crimes represented around 6.9% of the aggregate total.

Calls for “suspicious events” represented the most frequent incident at 25% of the aggregate total. Disorderly conduct accounted for the second most common category, representing 21.6% of the aggregate total.

A staff report said the grant funding would make the following locations more secure:

  • Bethlehem Lutheran Church
  • Congregation Olam Tikvah
  • Gesher Jewish Day School
  • Lutheran Social Services of the National Capital Area
  • Pozez Jewish Community Center of Northern Virginia
  • Temple Rodef Shalom
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Fairfax County police cruiser with lights on (via FCPD/Facebook)

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors expressed solidarity with the local Jewish community today (Tuesday) after dozens of anti-Semitic flyers were found in a Wolf Trap neighborhood over the weekend.

Reiterating a statement released on social media yesterday (Monday), Chairman Jeff McKay characterized the flyers as a backlash to the county’s embrace of religious diversity during the board’s meeting this morning.

“It’s not by accident that sadly Fairfax County is targeted by this hateful propaganda, because we are proud in our county to have the largest Jewish congregation in Virginia,” McKay said.

The Fairfax County Police Department confirmed yesterday that it is investigating the 70 to 80 anti-Semitic flyers reportedly found in the 1400 block of Laurel Hill Road on Sunday (Feb. 20).

The flyers were reported by a community member who found one in a plastic bag weighed down with corn kernels on his property, according to police.

The FCPD said it has increased patrols in the neighborhood, which is on the south side of Route 7 near the McLean Bible Church. It is also working with the Anti-Defamation League and the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington to raise awareness.

Calling the perpetrators “despicable people,” Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust advised community members to contact the police if they have any information about the flyers, especially surveillance video that may have captured their distribution.

FCPD Organized Crime and Intelligence Bureau detectives can be contacted at 703-802-2750. Tips are accepted anonymously through Crime Solvers by phone at 1-866-411-TIPS (866-411-8477), text (type “FCCS” plus tip to 847411), and online.

Detectives are still working to determine where the flyers came from, and it’s unclear so far why the Wolf Trap neighborhood was targeted, FCPD spokesperson Sgt. Ian Yost told FFXnow.

Fairfax County is one of several communities across the country hit by anti-Semitic flyers this past weekend, from Bowie, Maryland to California’s Bay Area, Colorado, Texas, and the University of Illinois.

Yost says Fairfax County detectives are collaborating with regional and local partners to see if there are any commonalities across the reported incidents.

McKay noted this morning that Fairfax County has seen these “scare tactics” before. Just last summer, flyers attributed to Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan were discovered in the Springfield and Sully areas, specifically targeting members of the county’s school board.

Anti-Black hate crimes and incidents tend to be the most prevalent in Fairfax County, according to police data, but there were also 22 anti-Jewish incidents reported between 2018 and 2020.

These acts won’t be tolerated and strengthen the county as people stand in solidarity with the Jewish community and all religions, McKay said.

David Taube contributed to this report. Photo via FCPD/Facebook.

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