Students at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT were forced to evacuate after receiving a bomb threat on Friday, the six-year mark of the 2012 shooting where 20 first-graders and six educators were murdered.
NBC Connecticut reports the school received the threat at around 9 a.m. The families who lost their loved ones at the massacre and the school have been at the center of horrifying right-wing conspiracy theories for years. This has led to a heightened sense of anxiety among Newton residents, which led to the school superintendent to cancel classes and send students home in light of the threat. Authorities searched the premises and said the threat was not credible, but the evacuation was done as a precaution.
"This kind of threats happen every day in American schools. But obviously the fact that this is happening in this community on this day makes it much worse. However, this is a day we should keep the focus on the victims and survivors of the Sandy Hook school shooting and how this horrific tragedy is what was an impetus for real change in this country," Shannon Watts, founder of the anti-gun violence organization Moms Demand Action, told Refinery29. "It was a clear call to action for so many, but particularly women and mothers in this country."
On December 14, 2012, a gunman entered Sandy Hook armed with semiautomatic pistols and a semiautomatic rifle. He targeted two classrooms, murdering 20 children and six adults, including the school's principal. After the massacre, which left the nation reeling, the school was torn down and a new building was constructed at the site.
Ever since the Sandy Hook massacre, the number of school shootings has been steadily increasing. According to data collected by the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School, 2018 is the worst year in record for this type of massacre. This year the U.S. saw 93 school shootings, nearly a 58% increase from the previous record-high of 59 incidents in 2006.
But Watts cautioned that despite these discouraging figures, people should keep in mind there's been progress done and the conversation surrounding gun violence has shifted. "It's so important to remember that we are not powerless. We've worked so hard over the last six years in honor of the victims of Sandy Hook, but also all victims of gun violence," she said. "All of this activism, by mostly women in this country, has led to a sea change in American politics and for us it all started six years ago."