iStock/Thinkstock(TUCSON, Ariz.) — The Clown Lives Matter march scheduled to take place Saturday in Arizona has been canceled after the event’s organizer said she received death threats on social media.
The march was organized in response to the increase of creepy clown sightings and threats in recent months. Participants were encouraged to wear clown masks, full makeup and costumes and families were invited to “meet a clown and get a hug!”
“This is a peaceful walk to show clowns are not psycho killers,” a flier for the event said. “We want the public to feel safe, and not be afraid.”
The event’s organizer was revealed as Shelly Gutierrez by ABC affiliate KGUN-TV in Tucson. She wrote on Facebook that she has been harassed online.
“With the [numerous] death threats and harassment it’s sad to say we have canceled what was supposed to be a fun peacewalk,” Gutierrez, who goes by the name “Nikki Sinn” on Facebook and has 38,000 followers, wrote. “We apologize to everyone who was excited to go and have a good night of fun.”
Gutierrez said the people who had “bombarded” the event page with harassing posts will be reported to authorities. The event was taken down from Facebook, but the flier posted on Oct. 5 remained on Gutierrez’s Facebook page. She did not immediately respond to ABC News’ request for comment.
Tucson Police Spokesman Sgt. Pete Dugan told ABC News that he did not know if Gutierrez had filed a report regarding the death threats she said she received.
The Rev. Reginald Walton, chairman of Black Lives Matter Arizona, called the Clown Lives Matter movement “insensitive” and “not as important” of an issue as police brutality in a statement to The Arizona Republic.
“The Clown Lives Matter rally takes away the focus of a serious issue in this country that we are working with law enforcement and the community to resolve,” Walton told the newspaper. He did not immediately respond to request for comment from ABC News.
Since Tucson has not seen any scary clown activity, police weren’t planning on providing extra security for the march, Dugan said. But since the downtown Tucson area is highly populated on weekend evenings due to its plethora of bars and restaurants, several Tucson police officers are already in patrol of the area, and the department has additional resources available if needed.
“It didn’t seem like they were going to need [additional security],” Dugan said. “We weren’t expecting anything major to happen.”
The uptick of scary clown incidents and sightings has rattled the nation in the months leading up to Halloween. The issue has become so severe that it prompted the White House to issue a statement saying the creepy clown incidents should be taken “seriously” by law enforcement.
Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.