“Party to Protect” against gun violence coming to Gowanus

A group of Brooklyn friends and a venue in Gowanus are taking aim at gun violence with a stage and some tattoo guns.

Littlefield, 635 Sackett Street, will play host on Saturday, June 16 to a very special “Party to Protect Our Lives,” a multi-faceted benefit concert meets tattoo pop-up salon from which 100 percent of proceeds will go to Moms Demand Action, a division of Everytown for Gun Safety.

“Party to Protect” – a grassroots organization founded by now-California-based Sarah Hanson whose mission is to party to raise money for positive causes that need promotion and protection – has raised thousands of dollars for organizations like Planned Parenthood and Earthjustice – an environmental conservation organization based in San Francisco.

Both events saw lines around the block for their flash tats – priced at just $40 each and in theme with each fundraiser.

Though “Party to Protect” is not his own, Sunset Park resident Bobby Hankinson felt it was time to throw another.

“I think in general gun violence has been an issue that I’m super passionate about,” he said, “and even more-so, I think that, for people in their 20s and 30s like me, having grown up and experienced Columbine and all of that’s happened since then, it’s been a major part of our lives for so long, and one that continues to affect everyone.”

The issue, he says, knows no bounds.

“It affects people of color, it’s a huge women’s issue, a huge LGBT issue and things like suicide, mental health, all of these things go hand in hand with gun violence,” Hankinson said. “It seems like such a common sense issue and it’s just so frustrating that nothing’s been done by now.”

After seeing the students from Parkland, Florida turn the February 14 massacre at their high school into a means to make a mark, Hankinson was inspired.

And so, he drafted an email.

“My friend Tim [Donnelly] and I had gone to the ‘Party to Protect’ events before and after Parkland, I said to myself, ‘Sarah should do one of these,’” Hankinson said. “I did not know her at all and I had not met her at any of these events before. I truly found an info@partytoprotect kind of e-mail address – very generic – and just cold-emailed her like, ‘Hey, I think there’s so much energy around this right now.’”

He never expected what would happen next. Hanson – soon to be out of state and low on a team – proposed Hankinson and his friends throw themselves a “Party to Protect.”

She told Hankinson, “If you think you have a team, we can talk and see if we can make this happen.” And they did.

Hankinson – an entertainer himself – rounded the troops, teamed up with Donnelly, Eric Silver and Hanson (who’ll be flying in for the event) and they’ve been “chipping away at it” ever since – of course, with the help of a huge team.

Less than a week out from the event, Hankinson is excited, (party) exhausted and perhaps even more motivated than he was when he first pitched it.

“Littlefield is the coolest. They’re so committed to the community and they were so down to be supportive and partner up with us,” he said. “We have raffle prizes you couldn’t believe and then we have these great, high-energy bands who are not only donating their time and talent to this but also are so dedicated to the cause.

“The energy there is so motivating and inspiring,” he went on. “I think that today, it’s so easy to be consumed by the immensity of these tragedies, or the stubbornness or the sadness, but to be able to flip that and turn it into hope and celebration – that’s something that makes it all worthwhile.”

And that, Hankinson thinks, is something all New Yorkers can relate to.

“This is a way for frustrated New Yorkers to do something about this issue, because it’s sometimes easy to feel so hopeless being so far away from where we’re seeing these problems,” he said.

Saturday’s “Party to Protect” starts at 7 p.m. and will feature performances by FIELDED, Crazy Pills, Elliot & the Ghost, and Alexander F. There will also be burlesque performances by Rhoda Dendron, Mina Minou and Bunny Buxom, all of which will be topped off with a dance party courtesy of DJ Doctor Mister.

Tattooers include Adam Korothy and Miykey.

Raffle prizes include VIP passes to Panorama Music Festival, one month of free yoga courtesy of New Love City, money off tattoos, passes to Alamo Drafthouse and more.

Drinks from liquor sponsors Snow Leopard Vodka and Noble Oak Bourbon will be sold for $8 with $2 going to Moms Demand Action.

For more information or to purchase a ticket ($15), visit www.ticketfly.com/purchase/event/1704184.

Founded in 2012, Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America was created to demand action from legislators – state and federal – companies and educational institutions across the country to establish gun reforms. It quickly flourished into a leading force for gun violence prevention, with chapters in all 50 states and a powerful grassroots network of moms that has successfully effected change at the local, state and national level.

Photo by Tony Falcone
Photo by Tony Falcone

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