SIMPSONVILLE, SC – In the days leading up to a children’s story time event lead by drag queens at the Five Forks library, law enforcement announced Thursday that online threats of violence have been reported.
"After a number of days went by, we started gathering some intelligence that there were some threats being made," said Lt. Ryan Flood of the Greenville County Sheriff’s Office.
The Greenville County Sheriff’s Office announced they now plan to have deputies on-site Sunday to make sure all laws are followed. The story hour goes from 3 p.m.- 5 p.m.
The founder of the Group hosting the story time, Natalie Shaik, told 7-News Friday that she’s hopeful everyone will remain peaceful.
"I take it very seriously, but at the same time I expect everyone to act like adults. I don’t think anybody wants anybody to get hurt," said Shaik, Founder of Mom’s Liberal Happy Hour of South Carolina.
Outside of the library at the same time of the reading, a counter-event is scheduled to take place and is expected to draw hundreds of people opposed to the story time.
Event coordinator Taylor Cox told 7-News in a statement that he, too, condones bad behavior, issuing the following statement:
"No violence of any kind from people attending my event will be tolerated. Please abide by the policies communicated by the Sheriff’s department and come exercise your First Amendment right in a positive way."
Deputies, on Thursday, laid out rules for everyone to follow during the event, including:
There will be no bags of any kind allowed on the property of the library. Anyone wishing to assemble must use the designated areas in the parking lot in an effort to not block or interfere with library patrons. Expect heavy traffic congestion during the above time period. No parking on Woodruff Road, Sunnydale Drive or Dusty Lane. Deputies and Troopers from the Highway Patrol will be providing traffic control and enforcement. Only residents of Mcrae place will be allowed on Sunnydale Drive (beyond the library) No weapons of any kind will be allowed on the library’s property. Reminder that State Law prohibits the wearing of a mask to include bandanas, to conceal a person’s identity. Reminder that the FAA prohibits flying drones over crowds without a permit.
On Friday the Sheriff’s Office confirmed for 7 News that deputies had been hired to patrol at the library since Sunday, after the library system raised their own safety concerns.
"We do have deputies that are at the library at various hours of each day," said Lt. Flood.
Last Monday, the Greenville County Library System’s Board of Trustee’s authorized the use of funds to hire off-duty law enforcement officers.
A move, ultimately funded by taxpayer dollars.
Lt. Flood said the library has requested these private details to continue past Sunday’s event into next week.
"We just hope that the community joins us in the effort to make sure it’s a peaceful event and nothing bad takes place."
7-News did reach out to the Executive Director of the Greenville County Library system to inquire about how much money was being spent on private details, but as of the time of Friday’s 5pm broadcast had not heard back.