A Washington man has pleaded guilty to a federal hate crime for a 2020 arson attack on a popular gay bar in Seattle. Kalvinn Garcia, 25, of Sedro Woolley, admitted to setting a fire to a dumpster behind the Queer Bar nightclub and event space on Feb. 24, 2020, telling officers he was triggered by a sign with bar’s name.
Garcia was arrested minutes after he set fire to a dumpster in an alley behind the bar. He told law enforcement officers he targeted the bar because the word “queer” angered him.
“I think it’s wrong that we have a bunch of queers in our society.” Garcia told the officers.
Garcia later told a stranger he had hoped to trap and harm people inside the nightclub.
“The defendant targeted the patrons inside Queer/Bar, a known safe space for the LGBTQI+ community,” Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division said in a statement. “Hate crimes have no place in our society today and we stand ready to use our federal civil rights laws to hold perpetrators accountable. All people deserve to feel safe and secure living in their communities, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.”
“Garcia endangered countless people who he did not know and who were simply trying to live their lives, solely because of his own hatred,” U.S. Attorney Nick Brown for the Western District of Washington said in a statement.
Earlier this month, the Queer Bar nightclub was the scene of a confrontation between an anti-LGBTQ+ religious group protesting outside the bar with a loudspeaker, and supporters of the bar. Capitol Hill reported police were called to the bar shortly after midnight on May 1 after the anti-LGBTQ+ group used pepper spray on a person who they said had damaged their speaker. Police eventually arrested a man who admitted to kicking and damaging the speaker and then advised the remaining protestors against further acts of intolerance.
Garcia will be sentenced in September. He faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.