by Shaun Knittel -
SGN Associate Editor
A person or group of people calling themselves Sparkles and friends has organized 'Liberty with Pride' an open carry walk for PrideFest at Seattle Center on Pride Sunday, June 28. Open carry means these people want to show up with guns visible to the public, usually in protest, that their right the bear arms is being threatened. However, it would seem, that in this case, it is the safety of LGBTQ people that they say has been threatened and their motto is that people who carry guns don't get bashed.
There are, obviously, a number of concerns that immediately come to mind; such as I highly doubt the organizer's license to carry or own a firearm has them listed as 'Sparkles,' who asks that people refer to it, as 'it' or neutral.
Why are they doing this? According to Sparkles, 'The amount of violence towards the LGBT+ community is unacceptable. Especially in this day and age...'
'I am calling on all of my LGBT+ brothers, sisters, and everyone in between, as well as our allies, to come do an open carry walk during Pride,' said Sparkles on the Facebook event page for the event. 'Let's walk around the International Fountain, and surrounding areas, as a big group and hand out flyers and talk to others, encouraging them to refuse to be victims. Let's show them guns are not scary and are a very great tool for defending oneself against a basher.'
'After a few laps, we can break off into smaller teams and enjoy the festivities, continued Sparkles. 'That way, everyone gets to have fun, and we will hit the booths as well and hand out flyers.'
'I look forward to having an EPIC pride with you all this year,' says Sparkles, who then shared this link with everyone: https://www.facebook.com/SemperSparkles?ref=aymt_homepage_panel.
So what do Seattle PrideFest 2015 organizers think about this? Although there isn't anything posted on their website www.SeattlePrideFest.org, Egan Orion, the festival director, issued the following statement: 'Seattle PrideFest is a big proponent of individual freedoms, but we can't support an open-carry gun rally on the busiest day in Downtown Seattle and the Seattle Center throughout the entire year, where a collision of people, alcohol, and religious protesters bring excitement and tension to our City streets. With the expected Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage, this will likely be a busier year than most, and will bring out more protesters. Adding an open carry rally to this incendiary mix is irresponsible and detracts from the LGBTQ focus of the day's events. We are reviewing the matter with Seattle Center and our board of directors, but since we've rented the Center for our exclusive use that day (on behalf of the community), know that anybody who open carries at the event will be peacefully asked to leave the festival grounds.'
At this point though, it seems like it comes down to the legality of whether or not Sparkles can actually do what it would like to do, which is bring firearms around 60,000 people, many of whom are children, at a festival that calls for peace and unity and love.
What could go wrong?
Sparkles is not going to quietly let this go. On June 2, it uploaded a video to Youtube.com, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VhjlIjNs0GEHow, with the question, 'How does Oregon compare to Washington when it comes to non-compliance? Watch and find out!'
'Be sure to stay tuned till the end where I give my very first orally given speech on freedom,' says Sparkles. 'It starts out very ranty, and that is probably going to piss a lot of you off. The end is rather impassioned.'
'Liked it, hated it, like to paint yourself orange and pretend you're a carrot, whatever tickles your pickle... go ahead and give this video a like,' Sparkles ends. 'Be sure to click on the subscribe button as well. I will be posting mostly humorous videos.'
After viewing the video I decided to take a look at Sparkles Facebook profile. There I found photos that, although absolutely no crime is being committed, are alarming. What is even further alarming are the commentary that it gives each photo. Take for instance a photo of what appears to be a bunch of ammo clips for an assault rifle. Sparkles says, 'Well would you look at what just came in the mail! (grin emoticon grin emoticon) It's like Christmas morning. Not a bad haul for less than $50. (grin emoticon) Each mag pouch hold two pmags. And each grenade pouch holds 5 7.62X54 stripper clips or 25 loose rounds. (grin emoticon) The odd mag pouch out was one I had already, but this looks better.'
In another photo, which again, is not illegal, but clearly does not fit with, I can comfortably, say 95% of any community members idea of what PrideFest symbolizes, Sparkles says about the automatic weapon photographed, 'This is my baby. I built her from an 80% lower. No paperwork, No FFL, No serial number. I already have a thousand rounds of the cheapest steel cased rounds I could find with zero malfunctions. I'll start from front to back. AAC Breakout 2.0 Compensator, Anderson Arms 16.5' 1/7 twist chrome lined barrel, Magpul Mbus Pro front and rear flip up sights, SLR Rifleworks Solo Lite 10' rail, Troy low profile gas block, GG&G vertical foregrip, Stag Arms complete upper, BCM Gunfighter charging handle, Anderson Arms M16 BCG, Windham Weaponry lower parts kit, Ares Armor 80% lower, Magpul BAD lever, Magpul enhanced trigger well, Magpul MOE K2+ grip, Magpul ASAP QD end plate, CMT Milspec buffer assembly, H2 buffer, Magpul CTR Stock, Magpul MS4 sling system.'
Seattle Gay News spoke with SPD about this issue and little is being said about it, although SGN was told that, at the end of the day, PrideFest organizers are allowed to say who and what is allowed - or not allowed - into the festival as they have rented Seattle Center for the day. It is my understanding that as long as people aren't turned away based on race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation or gender identity, then nothing has been done to discriminate. However, in order to provide safety for PrideFest guests, the organizers are fully within their legal rights to not allow this to happen.
Still, Sparkles and crew say they will be at PrideFest with guns in hand regardless.
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