Four people were arrested for bringing guns to Pride this year, according to SFPD, and one with priors was just sentenced to a year and a half in federal prison.
SF Pride is not an open-carry event, nor is any public event in any incorporated town in California. So bringing a handgun to Pride is illegal, yet a small handful of people are arrested for trying every year. One such armed man is on his way to jail, as the East Bay Times reports that 22-year-old Evonta Bailey brought a loaded semi-automatic to this year’s Pride and was just sentenced to 18 months in federal prison. The mitigating factor here is that Bailey was already out on bail for a previous gun charge, and had recently missed his court date on that one.
According to the original police report published July 2, at about 3:30 p.m. on Pride Saturday, Bailey entered the Civic Center party area when SFPD "recognized [the] subject from prior police contacts." They ran a records check and found an outstanding felony warrant for the previous charges, tried to arrest him and he attempted to flee, at which point "the officers and suspect fell to the ground." (Sounds more like they tackled him.) His waistband was packing a loaded 12-round semi-automatic plus eight additional rounds, and he was arrested.
“At worst, this indicates that Mr. Bailey believed that there was a realistic possibility he would have to use the gun that day,” U.S. Attorney Lina Peng said in a court filing. “At best, this indicates that Mr. Bailey has associated himself with individuals or activity for which he believed a loaded gun was required for protection.”
Here is the gun in question, a Taurus G2C 9mm pistol. It retails online for a shockingly cheap $200-$250.
Bailey’s attorney said that he was a previous victim of gun violence, and was just hoping to defend himself. “Before he had hit his teenage years, [Bailey] was already ‘dodging bullets’ and other kids regularly assaulted him in his neighborhood,” assistant federal public defender Angela Chuang said in her own filing. “By the time he reached adulthood, he had cycled through numerous different group homes after he was removed from his mother’s custody at the age of nine or 10. In the last few years alone, Mr. Bailey lost two of his best friends to incidents of gun violence.”
The judge was unmoved, and Bailey got the 18 months plus three years of supervised release after he’s out.
Guns at Pride are no joke. There were shooting incidents in 2013, 2014, and 2015, with injuries in each case. The LBGTQ community remains on edge after the 2016 Pulse nightclub shooting, and many still remember the Castro Halloween mass shooting in 2009. As San Francisco’s gay cultural events become iconic annual traditions, they’ve been drawing different, younger, and larger crowds with a much higher risk factor. In the Halloween incident a decade ago, the shooting was reportedly not prompted by hate, but just by some sort of beef between different factions of armed teens, but bystanders were nonetheless injured.
Image: Matt Biddulph via Flickr