After an arrest on the opening day of this years Phoenix Comicon, involving a 30-year old man wearing body armour and carrying ‘three handguns, a shotgun and a knife’ (and, no doubt, in no small part to the international reactions to the bombing at the Ariana Grande concert in Manchester), the organisers instituted a show wide ban on prop weapons, along with ramped up security line checks and protocols for retailers of weapons and prop weapons at the Phoenix Convention Center.
Well, it looks like not everyone was willing to play ball and play nice to the new rules.
According to a press release by the organisers today, Texas-based vendor UltraSabers refused to comply with the new procedures, failing to attend a mandatory meeting of weapon-based vendors on the Friday morning and continuing to “…[sell] unwrapped weapons throughout the day [Friday] after multiple requests from Convention Center staff, Phoenix Police Department, and Phoenix Comicon Staff.”
Let’s have the press release tell the whole tale, from Phoenix Comicon’s perspective:
Thursday night, Phoenix Comicon, in conjunction with Phoenix Convention Center staff and the Phoenix Police Department issued policy changes for Phoenix Comicon, including a prop weapon ban, security line bag checks, and new protocols for vendor sales of weapons and prop weapons on-site.
Lee Palmer, Director of Operations, and his team informed all vendors of the new procedures, which include the mandate that all weapons be securely wrapped by the vendors prior to sale. The team also held a mandatory meeting for all applicable vendors on site on Friday morning to assist with the transition. UltraSabers did not send a representative to this mandatory meeting.
On Friday, UltraSabers refused to comply with procedures, in violation of their contract. Despite the new protocols for weapon sales inside Phoenix Comicon, UltraSabers continued selling unwrapped weapons throughout the day on Friday after multiple requests from Convention Center staff, Phoenix Police Department, and Phoenix Comicon Staff.
On Friday night, Phoenix Comicon staff approached UltraSabers regarding their refusal to comply. UltraSabers representatives became combative with Phoenix Comicon staff and with Phoenix Police Department officers. Subsequently, they were asked to remove their exhibits and exit the building. UltraSabers was issued a full refund of the cost of their exhibit space and a check was issued to them onsite before they left.
This morning, representatives of UltraSabers managed to secure badges to enter the premises and distribute propaganda flyers claiming compliance with our procedures and accusing Phoenix Comicon of refusing to grant a refund. At this time, no decision has been made regarding UltraSabers’s eventual return to Phoenix Comicon or other Square Egg Entertainment events.
We appreciate the patience and understanding of all our exhibitors in complying with these new policies to ensure the safety and enjoyment of all our attendees.
Ultrasabers have responded in kind:
We at AEISD have made our position on weapons, knives on sale at comic cons pretty definite – in a family environment, there’s simply no room for something that will heighten tension and induce fear. Clearly, there’s space for fantasy cosplay with ‘weapons’ such as phasers, Harley Quinn mallets and manga-like oversized blades. But when you enter the realm of guns and automatic weapons, in today’s heightened landscape, it’s simply not worth the stress. And why the living feck an actual samurai sword should be on retail at a COMIC CONVENTION is simply beyond us.
Obviously, there’s a few more days of the convention to go. Let’s see if the standoff between those who wish to demonstrate their resistance to the ordinances laid down by Phoenix Comicon, and those who want a safe and friendly convention. Fingers crossed things don’t develop further.