Investigators in Moore County have said that vandals shot up two of the area’s Duke Energy substations on the evening of Saturday, December 3, that initially left 38,000 people in the county of 48,000 without power.

As of Tuesday, December 6 an estimated 33,000 people currently remain without power. Repairs are not expected to be fully completed until week’s end.

While no individual or group has claimed responsibility for the action, Moore County Sheriff Ronnie Fields conceded it is possible the incident is related to a drag show that was held there Saturday evening. “Is it possible?” Fields replied to a reporter during a press conference held December 5. “Yes. Anything is possible.”

Headlining the “Downtown Divas” drag show at the Sunrise Theater in Southern Pines and serving as hostess was Durham-based performer Naomi Dix. She confirmed in an interview the power ceased at about 8:15 p.m. that evening.

She said she was unaware the outage might have had anything to do with the event until hearing news Saturday night that mentioned unconfirmed reports the outages could have been the result of an attempt to put the drag show in the dark.

Durham-based drag performer Naomi Dix: ‘it would not surprise me if the attack was focused on the queer community.’
CREDIT: Facebook

“The show got a lot of heat from right-wing conservatives who did not want us there,” Dix said.

In an interview with an NBC affiliate, Dix said she didn’t want to speculate about a possible connection between the power station attacks and the show. 

“An investigation is being held right now and I have no doubt that the queer community and the residents of Moore County will hold those who are responsible for that attack responsible,” Dix said. 

Despite her initial misgivings about speculation, Moore offered these thoughts:

“It would not surprise me if anything was geared or focused on creating issues for the queer community. I’m not going to say specifically for the drag show because we are more than just a drag show, we are a community of people, so it would not surprise me if the attack was focused on the queer community.”

Protests took place in front of the theater where the drag show was held, but the show went on an additional 45 minutes past the time the power went out, despite online threats, with audience members holding up cell phones to light the theater.

Fields says he doesn’t know how many people were involved in what is possibly being labeled as “domestic terrorism,” but the FBI is now investigating and a state of emergency has been declared in the county.

“This is going to [cost] millions, folks. Millions for what it did to the power company, [and] what it’s done to the citizens here,” Sheriff Fields explained. We’re just getting over COVID, and now this. It’s going to hurt.”

Moore County, which is approximately 100 miles east of Charlotte and just outside Fayetteville, remains under a curfew, in effect since December 4 and enforced nightly from 9 p.m. until early mornings at 5 a.m. Local police have said it is in the interest of safety for residents, because they believe the damage done to the substations was a specific, targeted attack.

“The first substation went offline between 7 and 8 p.m. Saturday night, with a second substation following,” confirmed Jeff Brooks, a spokesman for Duke Energy.

Duke Energy provides power to nearly the entire county. About 45,000 customers were affected. When crews responded, Brooks said they found “intentional impact on the substation, damaging multiple pieces of equipment in the substation.”

The latest reports coming from Moore County confirm most businesses are closed, schools are closed and residents are trying to stay warm in the cold weather.

In an article written by Jaymie Baxley that appeared on November 25 prior to the attack, the Southern Pines-based publication The Pilot indicated the upcoming drag performance had received threats and social media posts condemning the event.

From The Pilot:

“Some worried that attendees would face hostility from the Proud Boys, a far-right nationalist group whose members disrupted a drag event in nearby Sanford last month. Those concerns grew after a number of Facebook users posted comments, many of which included homophobic and transphobic language, denouncing the popular downtown theater for hosting the event.

“Lauren Mathers … director of Sandhills Pride … said one post included a reference to lynching.”

In an interview with radio station WFAE, the publisher of The Pilot appeared to be backtracking on the concerns mentioned in Baxley’s article.

“It’s just speculation, David Warnock said. “There are no actual facts that can connect these two events. You stop anybody on the street and everybody has a theory about what happened, but nobody knows anything. Trying to connect it to the drag show is just so disproportionate, that I just don’t think that’s the reason.”

Most in North Carolina’s LGBTQ communities are seeing a touch of dark irony about what has happened and the myriad of responses from various sources. Some feel the very people who initially responded negatively to the drag show, which possibly led to the attacks on the two separate power substations, are now extremely hesitant to say the substations were shot up and the county is almost completely without power because an individual or a group of individuals wanted to stop the drag show. 

Why? The possibilities are seemingly endless: it makes Moore County look hateful. Many in the region are fearful of drag queens because they misguidedly view them as sexual predators. Some are afraid the press attention will generate too much sympathy for the LGBTQ community.

Then there are those who seriously wanted the drag show stopped and got their wish, sort of, but now there are over 30,000 people without power, shivering in the cold and the amount of financial loss and impact to the county is expected to be over one million dollars, which is a high price to pay.

David Aaron Moore

David Aaron Moore is a former editor of Qnotes, serving in the role from 2003 to 2007. He is currently the senior content editor and a regularly contributing writer for Qnotes. Moore is a native of North...

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