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Monday, October 15, 2007

The Watchmen on the Walls: The Mayor of Lynnwood Weighs In

posted by on October 15 at 11:46 AM

This morning brings another chapter in the ongoing drama of the Watchmen on the Walls, the international anti-gay group bringing their Taliban-esque mission to the Lynnwood Convention Center this weekend.

The latest: An official statement from Lynnwood Mayor Don Gough:

Lynnwood Mayor Don Gough Statement: Lynnwood Proudly Promotes Diversity While Respecting the First Amendment

Our American society and culture revere those First Amendment Constitutional rights of Freedom of Speech and Freedom to Assemble Peacefully. There are many passionate issues which stir citizens of our national community to take strong stands. Likewise, there are many racial and ethnic dynamics which stir passions on many sides of many issues.

The City of Lynnwood has over the last several years actively stated its policy, and acted to engage in promoting, through our Neighborhoods & Diversity Commission “mutual understanding” and respect amongst and between all sectors of our community. We as a city, and I as a councilmember and now as mayor, have all worked hard to foster an atmosphere of understanding and tolerance.

“While we must also value and respect the constitutional rights of everyone to exercise their freedom of speech and freedom to peaceably assemble our city will not tolerate the actions of any person or group which violate the personal safety or constitutional rights of any other person or group,” said City of Lynnwood Mayor Don Gough.

Mayor Gough also stated, “The City of Lynnwood wishes to make it also perfectly clear that it does not reflect, nor endorse the views and opinions of those who use the convention center and who may seek to polarize citizens through their own exercise of free speech and right to assemble peacefully.”

In regard to the specific event of “Watchmen on the Walls,” we wish to make perfectly clear that:
• The City of Lynnwood does not make decisions as to who rents or uses the convention center.
• The City of Lynnwood did not have advance knowledge, nor has it “approved,” nor does it support, nor is it “hosting,” the “Watchmen on the Wall” Event.

Respecting and valuing everyone’s peaceful exercise of their constitutional rights is a fundamental tenant upon which our community is based.

It’s good to know the mayor and Lynnwood law enforcement officials are aware of the risk they’ve invited into their city. The problem for me remains the violent extremism of past Watchmen events, and the Taliban-esque quality of their stated mission. Jerry Falwell and his ilk are pricks, but at least they know the difference between a culture war and a WAR war.

If there were any goal to this weekend’s Watchmen event—the repeal of gay-rights protections, the passage of an anti-gay ballot initiative—that would be one thing. Instead, the Watchmen seem to be all about stoking anti-gay hatred (see here for specifics) while offering their stoked masses no legal outlet for their fury, leaving them with what? Fists? Tire irons?

The Watchmen’s determination to vanquish the Evil Gay Enemy is far too close to Taliban/terrorist talk for my comfort, and the “holy warrior” rhetoric is scary shit—when extremists see violent crimes in this life as a path to eternal glory in the next, ordinary citizens have a right to be afraid. Here’s hoping the City of Lynnwood keeps close tabs on what they’ve gotten themselves into.

RSS icon Comments


In the last sentence of that press release, I think the mayor has confused the phrase "fundamental tenet" with "fundamentalist tenant."

Posted by flamingbanjo | October 15, 2007 11:55 AM

@1: "Fundamentalist tenant"? That's clever, but, uh, I mean, he's talking about respecting everyone's right to peaceably assemble and speak freely. That's, er, that's not a fundamentalist tenant at all.

So I'm confused.

Posted by Horace | October 15, 2007 12:04 PM

It's nice to see the suburbs growing up, confronting real-city/real-world issues as they do.

Posted by S. M. | October 15, 2007 12:06 PM

Have the Watchmen actually committed any crimes? Or just incited them?

Posted by mattymatt | October 15, 2007 12:11 PM

Here’s hoping the City of Lynnwood keeps close tabs on what they’ve gotten themselves into.

So what, then, do you propose that the local government in Lynnwood do in this situation? On many levels, I think that the WotW folks should be dragged out and shot. They're filth. However, how would constitutional free speech not apply in this situation? And if there is some kind of intervention, wouldn't that just justify any action made by more conservative municipal governments to push against, say, gay rights marches or right-to-choose rallies?

Posted by bma | October 15, 2007 12:13 PM

@5: I propose they do what they say they're going to do: Show up and make sure no laws get broken.

Posted by David Schmader | October 15, 2007 12:15 PM

Excuses, excuses. If LCC wouldn't rent to the KKK, (per Lynwood PFD chairman Mike Echelbarger) they shouldn't rent to these goons.

BTW does Dan know that one of these kooky groups has a photo of him and his kid on a page that "reveals the dark side of homosexual culture" and equates it with a high rate of pedophilia?

Posted by rb | October 15, 2007 12:20 PM

Heyyy! Aren't there 1,000s of gay ex-military -- trained as firearms and munitions experts and shit? (Before they got kicked out for being gay) I've GOT it! P I N K W A T E R !

Posted by Cat in Chicago | October 15, 2007 12:23 PM

Somebody call a
PINKWATER convention!

Posted by Cat in Chicago | October 15, 2007 12:24 PM

A "tenet" means a central, guiding principle.
A "tenant" is a renter.

I was engaging in an attempt at wordgeekery, based on noticing that the mayor of Lynnwood doesn't seem to know the difference between those two similar-sounding words.

And yeah, for the record I'm a card-carrying ACLU member. I believe even assholes have the right to hold meetings in public as long as they don't incite people to violence or otherwise break the law.

Posted by flamingbanjo | October 15, 2007 12:27 PM

Get your suits pressed, kids. It's protest time.

Posted by Greg | October 15, 2007 12:27 PM

are the watchmen the most pathetic human beings in the northwest? i think so.

a group of retarded christians, too scared of anything that takes them away from jesus' milk-dripping tit long enough to notice that there is nothing wrong with sex.

flaccid inbred hicks.

it's a scene of idiocracy, but still, it's too serious to let it go uncontested, is there going to be a protest?

Posted by cale | October 15, 2007 12:29 PM

While Mayor Gough brings up the 1st Amendment and it's been pointed to here's the deal. Ledyaev is coming from a foreign country to spread his bile. He's not an "American" and therefore isn't protected by the US Constitution. JHC just grab the F'er as he comes through customs and put him on the next flight back. Most of these people that will attend are not US Citizens, they are resident aliens who show absolutely no gratitude for the US taking them in when they were so "persecuted" in their own countries. If ever there was a need for one of those rendition flights it would be for this bunch of goons.

Posted by Sweetie | October 15, 2007 12:38 PM

I had the strangest experience riding Metro in DC a couple of weekends ago - as I was heading for Reagan airport, I realized that seated near me were white guys (mostly young, but some old) some of whom were reading racist pro-Aryan papers.

Next to me was a young black woman, and I wondered (we were both standing and could both see what the seated men were reading) what she thought about that - and did she think I was with that group (which I'm not)?

Posted by Will in Seattle | October 15, 2007 12:43 PM

We should all go. Pack some heat, it's gonna be a cold, cold day.

Posted by Mr. Poe | October 15, 2007 1:42 PM

Sounds like a likely target for an ICE raid.

Posted by ivan | October 15, 2007 1:45 PM

Sweetie @13,

Your amateur legal analysis is, as usual, wrong.

The ACLU (an organization staffed by actual constitutional lawyers!) informs us:

"The fundamental civil liberties protections of the Bill of Rights and Constitution apply to all 'persons,' not just citizens."

Posted by Eric Arrr | October 15, 2007 1:52 PM

@17 The ACLU can say whatever they want, but I'm sure any illegal alient that has been hustled out of the country would say something entirely different. Secondly, you sound like a real asshole.

Posted by Sweetie | October 15, 2007 2:19 PM

@12: Yes. Show up at 11 AM Saturday. Wear a tie.

Posted by Greg | October 15, 2007 2:48 PM

So are we protesting this group or not? From what I am hearing it sounds like we are going to let this group slide, besides just bitching about them on the internet.

Posted by Just Me | October 15, 2007 2:50 PM

If anyone wants to set up a protest shoot me an e-mail at

Let's put action behind our bitching!

Posted by Just Me | October 15, 2007 2:56 PM

Our First Amendment rights are part of our precious constitutional legacy. It is ironic that they are so often employed by individuals or groups from countries that would deny us those same rights in their own benighted hell-holes, and would, if they could get into power, curtail those rights here. Since Ken Hutcherson so visibly promotes a group like Watchmen it is time we begin calling him on his blatant anti-Americanism. This man would gladly suspend the constitution to establish his version of Biblical law. We need to call into question his and his followers' loyalty to America at every opportunity.

Posted by gay elitist | October 15, 2007 3:17 PM

Let the monkeys watching on the walls speak.

Let the crypto-fascists fling their excrement.

Our First Amendment can take it. So can we.

Posted by Laurence Ballard | October 15, 2007 3:20 PM

TENANT!? Oh for fuck's sake.

Posted by Nick | October 15, 2007 3:23 PM

**PROTEST UPDATE** We have three people that I know of who are going to protest this thing on Saturday. Anyone who is thinking of going should try to meet up around 9 am to get organized and then be at the Convention Center by 10am to meet people as they go into the Hate-Fest.

Let's make this happen!!!

Posted by Just Me | October 15, 2007 3:34 PM


Since you bring it up, immigration law offers vastly better options than constitutional law, in terms of finding grounds to disrupt the meeting. Turning undesirable non-citizens away at the border is way smarter than throwing away the first amendment over a meeting of shabby bigot rabble.

And this is the part where I take David and The Stranger to task for totally pooching the screw on this story:

The city of Lynnwood did not "invite" the Watchmen anywhere. Lynwood officials did not "get themselves into" anything, as they have no choice except to allow the Watchmen to assemble as required by the first amendment. But way to go, David & co., on blazing new ground for non-state-run media by repeatedly slogging in opposition to the first amendment.

Now, in all seriousness, if non-citizens are requesting entry to the states to attend this ugly thing, we should all do as Original Andrew suggested, and contact the folks at Immigration & Customs Enforcement, who actually have broad discretionary authority to admit, or not admit, these jokers into our country.

Posted by Eric Arrrr | October 15, 2007 3:44 PM

@10: Holy mother of God, I am covered with shame, since I actually, er, know the difference between tenet and tenant, and completely missed that distinction on reading the article and your comment.

There's pretty much no way to recover from this. Geez louise.

Posted by Horace | October 15, 2007 4:31 PM

@26: From HeraldNet:

The venue is owned by the Lynnwood Public Facilities District, a public taxing district that operates the convention center but is separate from the city.

"Our understanding is that [the Watchmen are] law-abiding. They have a right of free speech just like any other group," said Mike Echelbarger, the board's chairman. "If we were talking about the (Ku Klux Klan) we'd have a totally different take on it. Of course we wouldn't rent to the KKK," he said.

Apparently, Lynwood officials DO have a choice in allowing groups to assemble. What does this mean for the first-amendment issue?

Posted by David Schmader | October 15, 2007 4:51 PM

@28 Now there's an unattractive wrinkle to the story...

Posted by It's Mark Mitchell | October 15, 2007 4:55 PM

@28: That's more a measure of the board's weaselly hand-washing than it is an accurate reflection of the constitutionality of denying the Watchmen a forum.

Posted by Greg | October 15, 2007 5:02 PM

The mayor of Lynnwood is clearly a useless, cowardly bureaucrat. He should be challenged. How are the Watchmen any different from the KKK?

As for the protest: GET SOME FLYERS UP. Post them at the university, in the queer village, at coffeeshops and clubs, wherever people hang out who might show. GET LOTS OF THEM UP, QUICK.

Has anyone called a local radio station?
Let them know about the protest.

AFTER the convention, stage a cleansing ritual. Alert local media, show up with buckets and brushes, and WASH THE STEPS OF THE CONVENTION CENTER. Have big signs up explaining that you are cleansing this place of the hatred left behind by this odious group. Hand out flyers explaining who the Watchmen are and how they are opposed to community values. Bring parents, kids, dogs...

Are there any local church groups who might want to participate in this sort of thing? Let them know, too.

Posted by Irena | October 15, 2007 5:23 PM

Where's the public intern? Can't he organize a protest for us?

Posted by Greg | October 15, 2007 5:30 PM

@Greg, did you read the above comments? Only three people have expressed interest in a protest.

Posted by Just Me | October 15, 2007 6:19 PM

I've been emailing Lynnwood officials and the LCC. The only person to respond thus far is Ruth Ross, city councilmember, who expressed concern that this group would be in Lynnwood. She wrote that she only learned of this on Friday, and that she hoped to discuss it at one of their meetings this week.

What has me most irate is Mike Echelbarger's statement "of course we wouldn't rent to the KKK". If this is a public facility, accessible to all, why not the KKK? The logic doesn't wash. Of course Watchmen can say whatever they want; that is their First Amendment right. But you can't give access to one group of bigots and not another. For gays, the Watchmen ARE the KKK, so why the double standard?

Posted by rb | October 15, 2007 7:12 PM

The KKK is on record as supporting the violent overthrow of the US government. That specific thing is why no member of the US military has the First Amendment right to be in the KKK. The Klan was determined to be a terrorist organization 140 years ago. There is no shortage of violent crimes that can be specifically blamed on them.

And so on.

Which is why there isn't a lot of free speech love for the KKK.

Now if you could show that these 'Watchmen' had ever advocated the violent overthrow of the government, or incited a specific crime -- especially a hate crime -- then they would in fact be terrorists. And then would have to be kept out. Hint. Hint.

Posted by elenchos | October 15, 2007 7:38 PM

Actually the KKK as such is not one national organization. Many groups use the KKK designation, and many have some sort of legal registration (LLC, etc.) Many have repudiated terrorism, nor do they advocate the violent overthrow of the U.S. government. In fact, if you read the manifestos of the Watchmen, et al, they match almost exactly those of many Klan groups (minus racial separatism/white superiority).

Therefore, again, you can't deny the Klan, but let in the Watchmen. Unless, of course, you have some disdain for the gays, in which case you don't give a shit, and will come up with a lame excuse to cover your ass...

On that note, I find it VERY interesting that, according to, Michael Echelbarger of Lynnwood (Chairman of the Lynnwood Public Facilities District), made at least $3750 in contributions in 2006 to the Campaign for Working Families, which on its site, describes itself as "Unapologetically Pro-Family, Pro-Life, and Pro-Growth". CWF actively supports and promotes anti-gay candidates, and helped get DOMA laws on the books in a number of states.

Posted by rb | October 15, 2007 8:56 PM

Um, no.

Terrorists don't get to decide when we stop treating them as terrorists. I can assure you that nobody in the armed forces could get away with crap like "Oh, but my local KKK chapter is different! See, look at this manifesto they wrote!"

Posted by elenchos | October 15, 2007 9:17 PM

elenchos, we're not talking about the armed forces. Openly gay men and women are not allowed in the armed forces, but we still have first amendment rights, as does the KKK. Don't think they do? Call the ACLU.

Posted by rb | October 15, 2007 9:42 PM

I don't know why I wanted to argue about this. You were having trouble understanding why you couldn't get this group kicked out that easily.

It doesn't matter. What does matter is whether or not you can directly tie violence or threats to these Watchmen guys. If not, then you only get to go out and hold up a sign.

Posted by elenchos | October 15, 2007 10:26 PM

No, I understand that they can't be kicked out. My issue is with Echelbarger saying that they "of course" wouldn't rent to the KKK, which has every first amendment right that any other group has (again, call the aclu), but will rent to Watchmen on the Walls. Read the report that Southern Poverty Law Center wrote about Watchmen, the murder perpetrated by followers of Kusakin's church, or the numerous new reports about their friends in Latvia that beat up gays and throw shit at them on the street. Violence? Yes. Proven? Yes. They still have first amendment rights, as does the kkk (which I would prefer to see sent to the moon).

But Echelbarger, who it appears contributes money to right-wing organizations that seek to deny gays civil rights, also says that he can't stop the Watchmen from meeting in this facility... even though "of course" they wouldn't allow the kkk. seems a bit kinky to me. THAT is my issue.

Posted by rb | October 15, 2007 11:13 PM

David @28,

1. Just 'cause Mike Echelbarger says he'd turn the KKK away doesn't mean he could, or that the same would go for the Watchmen. Instead of asking Echelbarger, why don't you give the ACLU a call?

2. Even if the LPFD had some discretion in the matter, that doesn't change the fact that you're a member of the press trying to undermine free assembly. Stop fighting the bad fight & leave that shit to Coulter and Malkin.

Posted by Eric Arrr | October 16, 2007 12:43 AM

Eric @ 41: Thanks for weighing in, but be careful of jumping to conclusions about my "fighting the bad fight." Questioning the LCC's confused stance on the Watchmen is not the same as fighting to deny someone their constitutional rights. My complaints about the Watchmen are also constitutionally protected, no? You seem to be equating my phrases about LCC ("getting themselves into" something by "inviting" the Watchmen) as a call to override the constitution--a tempting reading, but too easy.

My fear: The Watchmen tread close enough to Taliban-esque terror talk that perhaps they've forfeited some of their own constitutional rights of assembly. Discussing this possibility doesn't magically transform me into Michelle Malkin.

Posted by David Schmader | October 16, 2007 9:50 AM

@33: What, do we need a quorum before we ask the public intern to do something now? As I recall, his last five or six assignments have been for single individuals. Where is the problem?

Posted by Greg | October 16, 2007 10:48 AM

Has anyone seen a schedule other than the days the Watchmen are meeting? I can only find the dates. I'm not waiting for the pubic intern. My boyfriend and I are going to protest. Even if its just the two of us. Anyone else going? Saturday at 9 maybe?

Posted by jamesb | October 16, 2007 12:04 PM


If all you were doing was questioning the LCC's confused stance when you represented them as variously "inviting", "hosting", "getting themselves into", etc, as if they have a choice in the matter, then I'm confused as to whose stance is confused. Sure reads like criticism to me.

And, inescapably, when you criticize a public office for permitting constitutionally-protected activity, you are calling to override the constitution.

I guess that leaves the question of whether the Watchmen have somehow forfeit part of their free assembly rights. My amateur legal analysis is that you're venturing way out on a legal limb. Unless you know a lawyer with a strong argument to the contrary, it's unfair of you to criticize them for refusing to follow you onto that limb.

Posted by Eric Arrr | October 16, 2007 2:31 PM

Sigh, I'm embarassed to have to clarify myself like this, but the "them" who I defend in my final paragraph of @45 is of course the LPFD.


- Eric

Posted by Eric Arrr | October 16, 2007 2:37 PM

There is a possibility of a planned "counter-event" elsewhere in Lynnwood this weekend that would be sponsored by LGBT community groups and progressive faith communities.

The goal would be to "counter" the hate with an opportunity for interested community members to have an educational experience about the real lives of LGBT people and not the ridiculous nonsense being spread by The Watchmen.

Stay tuned...

Posted by Mickymse | October 16, 2007 3:58 PM

I want to be a part of a protest. Where are we at with that? 11am Saturday as stated above? Will there be a whole 3 of us?

Posted by Lisa | October 17, 2007 10:44 AM

Not that I don't hate this scum suckers *shutter*, but there is a rather large difference between renting to a group that, while hate-mongering has committed no crime, and renting to a hate-mongering group that up until the 70's were still actively participating in lynchings.
Now, if the WotW DID commit a violent crime, we can send that right along to the mayor, who I'm sure would be all to happy to throw these jerks out of town. I'm actually kinda surprised at the posts above-I mean, the mayor (in political speak, granted) comes out and says he doesn't want these guys around, but his hands are tied legally about what he can do about it.
And I think that's actually a good thing-because what if a pro-gay group rented out a convention center in a town, and the mayor was a flaming idiot who could throw them out merely on the possibility they would cause trouble.
But this is America, people-we have the power to protest the heck out of the place!

Posted by Marty | October 17, 2007 5:35 PM

Count me in as #4 at the protest!
another e-mail I received said something about a prayer vigil on Sunday. Personally, I think protests are more 'fun' than prayer vigils but I want to participate in whatever way our collective voices will be heard.
e-mail me at with more info, please.

Posted by Catherine | October 18, 2007 11:43 AM

I will be there on Saturday and I'm bringing at least 3 people with me. Where are people meeting at 9 to get organized?

Posted by Jess | October 18, 2007 11:50 AM

The True Stories Project has teamed up with RCE (the Religious Coalition for Equality) and ERW (Equal Rights Washington) to offer a FREE screening of locally produced film “Inlaws & Outlaws” to counter the virulently anti-gay gathering of The Watchmen in Lynnwood this weekend.

Hosted by the Edmonds Unitarian Universalist Church, the screening takes place on Sunday, October 21st at 4 pm. Preceding the screening at 3 pm will be a Peace Vigil at the church, led by the Reverend Monica Corsaro, Co-Convener of RCE.

The Edmonds Unitarian Universalist Church is located at 8109 224 Street SW in Edmonds.

All are welcome to the vigil and the screening.

Visit: for more information.

Together, we can build & promote a community founded upon equality, tolerance and love.

Join us!

Posted by Inlaws & Outlaws | October 18, 2007 1:05 PM

While I agree that protests can be 'fun', I think the screening of 'Inlaws & Outlaws' and the Peace Vigil is a really cool alternative. It's awesome that orgs like ERW and RCE are lending their unity. I'm not religious, but the fact that it's going to be held in a church with a vigil is actually encouraging me. It shows that both secular and religious orgs are working together against them :) I'll be at the protest and the screening!

Posted by Alex M | October 18, 2007 2:32 PM

The protest rally WILL take place at the Lynnwood Convention Center beginning at 9:45-noonish. The LCC and Lynnwood PD have been great in assisting us with our protest rally.
PLEASE be peaceful, powerful and respectuful. We are there to make a statement, not an ass of ourselves. Our message to the public will get lost if we don't remain united. Plus, there are other conventions going on at the same time, so not everyone entering LCC is a member of WotW. I hope to see you there with balloons, banners, posters and friends! Peace.

Posted by Cindy W | October 18, 2007 11:32 PM

I already know who's gonna win, so you know guys, don't even bother to come and protest...Watchmen on The Wall got more power and brains and can officially agree that you lost this game, sweethearts. Hope to see ya ll in heaven someday

Posted by Olga L | October 19, 2007 10:29 AM

I'm sick and tired of this "walk softly and carry a protest sign" bullsh*t. It's time to start kicking some right-wing ass.

Posted by djjimi | October 20, 2007 11:23 PM

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