Alleged ‘clowning’ threat places northeast Edmonton school on alert
Londonderry Junior High School in northeast Edmonton was placed on alert for several hours Thursday afternoon due to an alleged “clowning” threat in the neighbourhood, according to Edmonton Public Schools.
In a letter sent home with students Thursday afternoon, the assistant principal of the school said police asked the school to go on alert for a few hours while they investigated.
“This threat was not made against the school or our students,” Wendy Sorenson said in the letter.
The school was on alert from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Students were required to stay inside the school during those hours.
“We take student safety seriously and followed instructions from police,” Sorenson said.
During an alert, classes continue as normal but the doors to the school are locked and no one is allowed to enter or leave the building.
While no students were injured and the alert was lifted, Edmonton Public Schools said it sent home the letter to ensure open and transparent communication with parents.
The alert at Londonderry school came one day after threats were made against three Edmonton high schools.
Harry Ainlay was placed on lockdown for a period of time Wednesday while police investigated an alleged threat made against a school administrator on social media.
Alleged threats were also made against J. Percy Page and McNally on Wednesday.
A clown-related incident also caused a scare in Fort Saskatchewan Wednesday night. A 15-year-old boy has since turned himself in to RCMP in what police called “an error in judgement on the youth’s behalf.”
The alleged clown-related incident comes amid a rash of reported clown sightings in the United States. In some cases, it’s led to people being charged for making false reports. In Georgia, for example, police said two people were arrested after they called 911 to report that people dressed as clowns were trying to lure children into a white van.
Benjamin Radford is the author of Bad Clown, which takes a closer look at the history of bad clowns, why clowns go bad and why many people fear them.
“Nobody had actually looked at the evil clown character through the prism of folklore and culture and history and that was what intrigued me,” he said of his research.
He said while historically, people thought of clowns as happy, polite characters, the evil, creepy clown has emerged as the more intriguing character. And it’s this version of the clown that’s become the default in pop culture.
Radford has also done research on clown sightings, particularly across the U.S., and said while they’re most often hoaxes or copycats, they do instil fear in the public. He said this isn’t the first time there’s been a scary clown phenomenon and it likely won’t be the last.
“Scary clown panics and hoaxes have gone on for many years. In the 1980s, for example, there were rumours and legends about vans of clowns that were going around allegedly trying to abduct children,” he explained.
“You have a mixture of a couple real life clowns, lots of copycats and lots of legends. It all sort of mixes together into this irresistible news story. But what you find is, if you look at the history of these, they’re sort of like fads. They wear themselves out.
“I can tell you, having researched this, the clowns will be back. Maybe next year, maybe in five years, but sooner or later these scary clowns, because they’re part of folklore, are going to emerge and bubble up again.”
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