Man pleads guilty to hate crime for arson at Seattle gay bar – The Hill

The story at a glance

  • A 25-year-old Washington man has pleaded guilty to a hate crime in connection with a 2020 incident outside an LGBTQ+ nightclub in Seattle.

  • Kalvinn Garcia said he set fire to the contents of a dumpster in an alley behind Queer/Bar in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood in 2020 with the intention of trapping and injuring patrons inside.

  • Garcia faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. His sentencing is set for the end of September.

A Washington man has pleaded guilty to committing a hate crime to arson at a Seattle-area gay bar, the Justice Department announced this week.

Kalvinn Garcia, 25, of Sedro Woolley, Wash., admitted Thursday to setting fire to the contents of a dumpster in an alley behind Queer/Bar, a popular LGBTQ+ nightclub and event space, in Seattle in 2020. Garcia, who was arrested just minutes after setting the fire, said he targeted the establishment because there was a sign outside that read “queer.”

“I think it’s wrong that we have a bunch of queers in our society,” Garcia told law enforcement officials. Weeks after the incident, he told an unknown person his intention in setting the fire was to entrap and injure people inside the building, the Justice Department said in a news release Thursday.

“Garcia endangered countless people he didn’t know who were just trying to get on with their lives, solely because of his own hatred,” U.S. Attorney Nick Brown for the Western District of Washington said in a statement Thursday. . “We must stand against this hate at every opportunity, to demonstrate to our community that acting on hate will not be tolerated.”

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Garcia faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, according to the Justice Department. His sentencing is scheduled for September 20.

According to court documents, Garcia set fire to the dumpster behind Queer/Bar around 9 p.m. on Feb. 24, 2020. At the time, the nightclub shared the alley with the Seattle Police Department East Precinct, which was abandoned more later that year in citywide protests. following the police killing of George Floyd in Minnesota.

Flames from the Garcia fire quickly crawled up the side of the bar, where more than 50 people had attended an event, the Justice Department said last year, citing surveillance footage from the East Ward. The fire drew “immediate attention,” the department said.

After his arrest, Garcia allegedly told Seattle Police Department Detective Scott Kawahara that he had recently become homeless, which he blamed on LGBTQ+ people, according to court documents.

“Hate crimes have no place in our society today and we stand ready to use our federal civil rights laws to hold perpetrators accountable,” Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Division of Criminal Justice said Thursday. Civil Rights Department of Justice in a statement. “All people deserve to feel safe in their community, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. »

Published in May. 27, 2022

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