Anti-LGBTQ forces in rural North Carolina are going to great lengths to let business owners and residents know just how they feel about openly queer folk in their midst in recent months. It appears the latest occurrence involves concrete yard art with a rainbow paint job and a bible-based threat of drowning.
Stories throughout television and internet media are describing what was left behind overnight February 28 in front of the LGBTQ-friendly Cru Bar and Wine in Beaufort, North Carolina as a “100 pound mill stone,” but it’s not stone at all and likely nothing more than a common yard art replica that could be purchased from a hardware, big box store or roadside manufactured statuary vendor.
“It’s poured concrete,” Beaufort Police Captain Joe Moreno told Qnotes. “[But] I don’t know where it came from.”
Footage from CCT showed that two men and a woman placed the replica of a millstone between the street and sidewalk in front of Cru Bar and Wine in the small town located in far eastern North Carolina in the Crystal Coast region.
The “millstone” had been trimmed with paint done in the manner of the original LGBTQ Rainbow Flag and carved with a reference to the biblical chapter and verse of Luke 17:2. Further investigation showed the verse reads as follows: “It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones.”
Aside from the obvious reference to the false, trumped-up notion that transgender individuals and drag performers are somehow a threat to children, it’s raising eyebrows because it shows a recent ominous and continuing trend in anti-LGBTQ sentiment in rural North Carolina, which likely first appeared December 3 of last year with an attack reported in QNotes on a Moore County, North Carolina power substation. That event left more than 30,000 residents in the region without power and shut down a Sandhills Pride drag performance. Leading up to that attack, there had been a multitude of anti-LGBTQ messages and threats aimed at Sandhills Pride and the drag presentation, although area authorities have since denied any connection between the drag show and the substation attack.
The manager of Cru seems to be quite confident the “millstone” with the reference to Luke 17:2 is an anti-LGBTQ threat.
“Initially, I was like wow what’s this?” Ashley Harrell, the general manager of Cru said in an interview with the area’s NBC affiliate WITN. “Did somebody make us something? Then I got closer to it and I realized there was a Bible scripture on it.
“The scripture was talking about tying a millstone with chains around someone’s neck and casting them into the sea, and the water is right there,” Harrell explained, as she gestured towards the inter costal waterway of the Atlantic Ocean across from her business.
The ownership and management team at Cru confirmed the existence of the surveillance video from a camera located on the front of the business shows two men and a woman dropping off the stone in front of the bar during off business hours, but they have remained steadfast with their decision not to share the footage with public.
Despite Cru’s belief the action is a sign of intimidation, they have no intention of closing down the business, redirecting its focus or the community it serves.
“I’m not worried or scared about it because I don’t want to give the stone that kind of power.” Harrell explains.”We’re just going to keep on doing what we do here. We’re going to keep on inviting everybody and making sure that Carteret County [and] Beaufort has a place that welcomes diversity in a place that is pretty rural.”
Not surprisingly, the local police department in Beaufort – like Moore County – is trying to downplay the incident, describing it as littering or free speech, instead of an anti-LGBTQ hate message or warning of potential violence yet to come.
“We picked it up at the request of the owner [of Cru],” Captain Moreno said, also in the interview with WITN, which is based in Washington, North Carolina.
He continued: “…It was sitting next to a sidewalk and it could have been a trip hazard. We did not seize it, we simply removed it. It’s not a hate crime, it’s a freedom of expression. It’s simply a Bible verse with a rainbow and, uh, it’s offensive to some while it may not be offensive to someone else.”
In what seems like a nod of approval from local authorities to the individuals who left the millstone behind, Moreno announced that those who placed it in front of Cru were welcome to retrieve it from the police department.
As of March 8, Moreno confirmed during the conversation with Qnotes the “millstone” was still at Beaufort police headquarters. “No one has shown up to claim it,” he offered. “Not yet, anyway.”