Man offended by the word ‘Queer’ pleads guilty to hate crime after starting fire outside a Seattle gay bar in the hope of harming LGBTQ+ patrons.
Kalvinn Garcia, 25, of Sedro-Woolley, Washington, pleaded guilty to committing a hate crime because the word “queer” angered him, according to a press release from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ).
Garcia pleaded guilty to a the federal hate crime on Thursday (May 26), which saw set a fireSeattle gay bar in hopes of harming its patrons on February 24, 2020.
The fire spread from its point of origin to an exterior wall of the building housing Queer/Bar, reports say. Around 50 people in the bar at the time, but they were evacuated safely.
He faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for starting the fire.
“I think it’s wrong that we have a bunch of queers in our society,” Garcia is reported to have told officers after being arrested within minutes of igniting the fire.
“The defendant targeted the patrons inside Queer/Bar, a known safe space for the LGBTQI+ community,” explained Assistant Attorney General Kristen 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.”
Nick Brown, U.S. attorney for the Western District of Washington, added: “Garcia endangered countless people who he did not know and who were simply trying to live their lives, solely because of his own hatred,”
“We must stand up to this hate at every opportunity, to demonstrate to our community that acting on hate will not be tolerated.”
“Garcia’s hateful act endangered and spread fear in the LGBTQ+ community and caused damage to this business establishment,” said Donald M. Voiret, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Seattle field office. “Fortunately, our partners at the Seattle Police Department were able to respond quickly to this arson. This case shows our commitment to investigating civil rights violations with our partners.”
Garcia pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court on Thursday. He is due to be sentenced in September.