Gay club arson ignites memories of 1990

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by ALISON MORROW / KING5

Bio | Email | Follow: @AlisonMorrowTV

KING5.com

Posted on February 8, 2014 at 12:41 AM

SEATTLE -- Equal Rights Washington held a fundraising gala at Neighbours Nightclub on Friday night, planned after the arson attack on New Year’s Eve.


“To say we really are one community and we’re not going to be scared out of our space,” said ERW Operations Director Doug Hamilton.


Police arrested Musab Masmari, 30, on February 1. He is in the King County Jail on a $1 million bond.


Though Neighbours has changed in the three decades it’s welcomed customers on Capitol Hill, there is one question that still haunts the club.


“Why do people hate us so much they just wanted to kill everybody? Why? The big question will always be, 'Why?” Manager Steve Tracy said.


Tracy was a young bartender at Neighbours in 1990 when men belonging to the Neo-Nazis in Idaho planned to bomb the club.


The FBI arrested them as they left their hotel near SeaTac Airport, headed toward Neighbours with the equipment needed to make pipe bombs.


“They had the blueprints. They had the plans. They showed us everything that was intended at the time,” Tracy said. “Everything [the FBI] described to us was pretty horrifying and graphic at the time.”
Tracy still has trouble recounting the experience. He flew to Idaho in order to testify.
 

The emotions invoked by his memories are still overwhelming.


Though he sees the New Year’s Eve arson in a different light, many Neighbours regulars call it a sobering reminder that violence is not history, even at the historic club.


 “Are we going to have an issue today? Is there going to be someone who brought something to hurt somebody?” said club spokesman Shaun Knittel.


Though police have not yet released a motive in the New Year’s Eve arson, it will likely surface as Masmari heads to trial.


“And I think the symbolism of that is, we’ve made incredible progress as a LGBT community, but this is the side of the mountain not the top of the mountain,” said Mayor Ed Murray.
 

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