Five arrests after protests at UW Patriot Prayer rally
Five people were arrested Saturday during a much-anticipated rally at the University of Washington after protesters confronted a group of right-leaning demonstrators on campus.
The rally was hosted by the university’s College Republicans chapter, who invited the popular Vancouver, Washington-based Patriot Prayer, which claims to to fight “corruption and big government with the strength and power of love.”
"Protecting the safety of the community would actually become more difficult if the event was cancelled because these groups would likely still come to our campus."
Multiple videos of the encounter show police officers blocking off counter-protesters and arresting those who apparently attempted to confront the group of Republicans, with others burning American flags, according to The Seattle Times.
Saturday’s disruption, however, was not the first roadblock Patriot Prayer faced as the university was barred from charging the College Republicans a $17,000 security after a federal judge ruled that it would be a violation of the club’s First Amendment rights.
One journalist on the ground reported that police were “on the move” after fights “broke out and [the] opposition crowd moves in front of Suzzallo library,” noting that it was “very peaceful on Patriots Prayer [sic] side.”
While Patriot Prayer’s rally went on as planned for 75 minutes, counter-protesters eventually showed up, chanting, “say it loud, say it clear, racists are not welcome here.”
University President Ana Mari Cauce seemed to anticipate Saturday’s events, sending out a campus-wide message that campus police “obtained credible information that groups from outside the UW community are planning to join the event with the intent to instigate violence.”
“At this moment in our country where so much divides us, I continue to believe that together, UW students, faculty, staff, and alumni can tackle the difficult issues that we face as we strive to become a more inclusive and diverse community,” she added, providing an update that the event would go on despite the apparent threats.
“Law enforcement officials advised me that protecting the safety of the community would actually become more difficult if the event was cancelled because these groups would likely still come to our campus,” Cauce elaborated.
The Times reports that police did not immediately provide details on the arrests.
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