A Washington man pleaded guilty to one count of committing a hate crime for the Feb. 24, 2020, arson at Queer/Bar, a nightclub and event space in Seattle, federal authorities said.
According to documents filed in connection with the plea, 25-year-old Kalvinn Garcia, of Sedro Woolley set fire to the contents of a dumpster in the alley directly behind Queer/Bar on Feb. 24, 2020. Garcia was arrested only minutes after setting the fire. He admitted to law enforcement that he set the fire and that he targeted Queer/Bar because it angered him to see a sign that said “queer.” He also told officers, “I think it’s wrong that we have a bunch of queers in our society.” A few weeks after the incident, Garcia told a stranger that his intent in setting the fire was to trap and hurt the people inside.
“The defendant targeted the patrons inside Queer/Bar, a known safe space for the LGBTQI+ community,” said Assistant Attorney General Clarke. “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,” said U.S. Attorney Brown. “We must stand up to this hate at every opportunity, to demonstrate to our community that acting on hate will not be tolerated.”
Garcia faces a maximum sentence of 10 years of imprisonment and a $250,000 fine.