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Videos from multiple states show protesters ranting in the aisles of the superstore.
Last year, it was Planned Parenthood. This year, it’s…Target?
This week, conservative Christian bathroom panic advanced out of a massive petition that inspired stock prices to drop and into a series of coordinated actions that saw street preachers storm stores in multiple states—resulting in fear, arrests, and at least one active-shooter call.
Protester Michael Merichko made headlines Monday when his loud anti-trans rants inside a suburban Illinois Target led employees to warn police of a possible active-shooter threat. It turned out Merichko wasn’t armed, but according to police he still managed to cause “panic among store employees and customers.”
It’s unclear whether Merichko was part of another coordinated series of videotaped in-store protests that took place over the weekend in Tennessee, Oregon, and an unclear location that might be Salt Lake City.
At those Target stores, Bible-thumping street preachers wearing identical neon sweatshirts walked up and down the aisles yelling about “perverts” and lakes of fire.
At a Portland, Oregon, Target store, one fire-and-brimstone preacher yelled, “You will be judged. And if there’s Christians in here, shame on you!” He was quickly chased out of the store by customers admonishing him to “Shut up and leave.”
One customer can be overheard telling the protester, “You’re not a true Christian. You’re an asshole.”
A Facebook user posted a similar video on Sunday that she captured during a visit to a Hendersonville, Tennessee, Target store. There, a protester wearing an identical neon-yellow T-shirt yelled, “It’s time to get rid of the rainbow. The rainbow belongs to God, not to you.”
A street preacher with the YouTube account OneChristianVoice posted several videos of himself protesting at a Target store in an unidentified location last week and over the weekend. The protester—whose other videos show him warning Mormons to repent in Salt Lake City and calling a preteen boy at a Justin Bieber concert a “lesbian”—walks next to a row of cashiers and rants about Target’s trans-friendly bathroom policy.
In a second video featuring the same open-air preacher, he bellows, “Wicked! wicked!” as store security ushers him out the door.
The series of crazed store takeovers came about two weeks after popular evangelical pastor Greg Locke posted a Facebook video rant about Target’s restroom policy that received over 18 million views.
Mary Emily O'Hara is an LGBTQ reporter. Her work has appeared in Rolling Stone, NBC Out, Daily Dot, Broadly, Vice, the Daily Beast, the Advocate, Huffington Post, DNAinfo, Al Jazeera, and Portland's Pulitzer Prize-winning newsweekly Willamette Week, among other outlets.