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caption: Michael Thompson of Bellingham hoists a device for carrying flags onto his back on Sunday, January 5, 2020, during a 'United against Hate' rally organized by the 3% of Washington group outside of City Hall in Seattle. 
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Michael Thompson of Bellingham hoists a device for carrying flags onto his back on Sunday, January 5, 2020, during a 'United against Hate' rally organized by the 3% of Washington group outside of City Hall in Seattle.
Credit: KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

PHOTOS: Three percenters call Matt Shea ‘a hero’ at Seattle rally

Washington Three Percent, a right-wing group that advocates for gun rights, held a political rally outside of Seattle City Hall Sunday.

Antifascist protesters assembled across the street and clashed with Seattle Police in a brief skirmish resulting in four arrests.

The “United Against Hate” rally was scheduled for noon at Seattle City Hall plaza, but protesters and hundreds of Seattle police were already set up on every corner surrounding the building before 11 a.m.

Metal barricades corralled the black-clad antifascist protesters, who chanted and blew horns throughout the rally. Police, carrying wooden batons, blocked off Fourth Avenue to traffic.

The rally drew a couple dozen members of the Washington Three Percent group, which holds demonstrations advocating for broader Second Amendment rights.

Leader Matt Marshall called for the removal of state Attorney General Bob Ferguson for his support of Initiative 1639.

I-1639, approved by voters in 2018, tightened gun laws in the state, including raising the minimum age to buy a semiautomatic rifle from age 18 to 21.

caption: Matt Marshall, a founder and leader of the 3% of Washington group, during a 'United against Hate' rally on Sunday, January 5, 2020, at City Hall in Seattle. Marshall is an Eatonville School Board member.
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Matt Marshall, a founder and leader of the 3% of Washington group, during a 'United against Hate' rally on Sunday, January 5, 2020, at City Hall in Seattle. Marshall is an Eatonville School Board member.
Credit: KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

While the rally did not focus on I-1639 or gun rights, multiple speakers brought the issue up. One member finished his speech by offering gun training courses and telling the crowd to be “deadlier and harder to kill” in 2020.

The big-name guest speaker was Patriot Prayer member Joey Gibson, who came to Seattle in 2018 advocating against I-1639. Patriot Prayer has been involved in multiple violent street clashes in the Northwest, and Gibson is currently appealing a $1 million lawsuit over a riot in Portland in May.

Gibson spoke in support of Republican state Representative Matt Shea, who has recently come under fire from his own caucus for his involvement in the 2015 armed occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon.

A report commissioned by the Washington state House found Shea engaged in “irresponsible and possibly illegal activities” and called his involvement an “act of domestic terrorism against the United States.”

But that's not how Gibson sees it.

“Matt Shea is a hero,” Gibson said. “He is an example as a representative.”

After a few members spoke about high taxes, Seattle’s homelessness crisis and running for public office, the group was escorted by police to a van on the other side of the building. Some had said they would try to interact with the chanting protesters, but no altercations broke out between the two groups.

Instead the anti-fascist protesters pushed up against the line of police bikes that steadily directed them away from City Hall. Seattle police say some members threw debris at officers and vandalized two police cars, resulting in four arrests.