A pair of right-wing groups, Washington Three Percenters and Patriot Prayer, held a “Liberty or Death” pro-gun rally in Seattle Saturday, but were met with counterprotesters from several liberal and anti-fascist groups.
The competing rallies, divided by metal barriers and police officers, were largely peaceful, but there were some scuffles, leading to three arrests and one conservative protester injured.
The pro-gun groups billed their event as a “rally against left-wing violence.” In particular, it was meant to oppose Initiative 1639, a proposed ballot initiative to expand a number of gun control measures, including enhanced age requirements, background checks, waiting periods, and training in order to obtain semiautomatic rifles, as well as requirements that gunowners properly secure their firearms in their homes. The conservative protesters called Initiative 1639 “illegal and unconstitutional.”
The rally occurred just a day after a state judge struck a major blow to the initiative based on concerns about how the initiative signature petitions had been formatted.
The National Rifle Association and Second Amendment Foundation had sued to challenge the petitions, and may have ultimately succeeded at keeping the initiative off the ballot. The Alliance for Gun Responsibility campaign, which proposed the initiative, immediately appealed the decision.
Patriot Prayer founder Joey Gibson, who recently garnered just 2 percent of votes in the U.S. Senate Republican primary, told the crowd, “This government above is slowly killing our spirit” and that the people were “marching against violence on the far left.”
Counterprotesters shouted chants like, “Nazis go home,” “fascism kills,” and “hate groups not welcome.”
Seattle’s dueling rallies echoed a similar conflict that played out in Boston the same day. There, hundreds of anti-racism protesters confronted a small right-wing rally organized by groups with ties to white supremacist groups.