Alleged 'Antifa' member who disrupted College Republicans meeting will NOT face charges (UPDATE)
- University of Washington police arrested 18-year-old Ezra Benner after Benner attempted to use a chain to lock a College Republicans inside a room.
- Benner was arrested and cited for disorderly conduct and the College Republicans are seeking an unlawful imprisonment charge.
- UPDATE: The King County Prosecuting Attorney's office said they will not file any charges.
UPDATE: The King County Prosecuting Attorney's Office told Campus Reform that the individual arrested after police say he attempted to chain lock a door of the room in which College Republicans were meeting will not be charged with any crime.
"We are declining to prosecute...because, based on the facts presented, it is unlikely that we would be able to prove he intentionally committed the crime of disorderly conduct beyond a reasonable doubt...While we can speculate, the purpose of the suspect’s use of the chain is not entirely clear since there were other doorways/exits in the class that were visible and obvious," the prosecuting attorney's office said.
"Furthermore, the meeting itself was not in any way disrupted except to the extent necessary to immediately interrupt, chase and apprehend the suspect. While it is fair to say that the suspect had formed some plan, it is not at all clear from his actions what that plan was. The plan was fully and completely interrupted from the very moment it began," the prosecuting attorney's statement added.
"Since we are unable to say what he intended to accomplish beyond a reasonable doubt, we decline to file a criminal charge."
Police arrested and cited for disorderly conduct Wednesday a masked individual who attempted to chain the door of a University of Washington-Seattle College Republicans meeting.
The group’s last meeting of the spring term featured a guest speech by the hosts of Operation Cold Front, a local conservative YouTube channel known for man-on-the-street style videos.
“A few days before the event, we received a tip that Antifa was calling for people to come disrupt the meeting, but we weren’t too worried about that since that type of thing happens all the time,” UW College Republicans President Chevy Swanson told Campus Reform.
Indeed, the local Antifa Facebook page features a direct call to “deplatform” the specific event.
“There's space for 100 or so people, but for those who show up, some useful tactics might [be] to sit in using large items that take up additional seats, maybe with headphones in so you don't have to hear their garbage, or noise demo tactics such as whistles to make it difficult for them to speak over,” the post read.
“About 45 minutes into the event, a man in a mask comes up to the main window and starts trying to tie a chain around the door handles,” Swanson told Campus Reform. As soon as Swanson realized what was happening, he says he leapt out of his seat and pushed the door open before the perpetrator could successfully lock the door from the outside.
In a video shared by Operation Cold Front, a person inside the room can be heard shouting "Antifa" as multiple individuals chase the suspect. Campus Reform could not independently verify that the man who was arrested is, in fact, part of Antifa.
UW police said that Benner attends a high school class on UW’s campus, according to KTTH. The 18-year-old was cited for disorderly conduct, but the UW College Republicans plan on pursuing a charge of unlawful imprisonment.
Swanson told Campus Reform that his quick thinking was likely a result of the fact that the College Republicans are no strangers to similar incidents, mentioning one instance in which a member was doused in paint and another in which a vandal slashed the group’s signs with a blade while the group tabled on campus.
Although the suspect is affiliated with the university, Swanson says he doesn’t expect the school to take any action. He claims that the university has “refused to do anything” when the club has been targeted in the past.
“We expect the school will do the same thing this time and sweep this under the rug,” the College Republicans president told Campus Reform.
“We’ve had a lot of incidents in the past. We’ve had members of our club assaulted. As soon as it happened, I realized what was going on. Chain on a metal door handle is a very distinct sound,” Swanson said. “We would have been locked in, so I decided that the best course of action was to jump up and push the door before he could lock us in.”
The UW police report obtained by Campus Reform says that Benner had attempted to lock one of the doors, but that a second door “was not tampered with.”
“It’s hard to know if the plan was to just lock the door and leave us in there, or to do anything worse. It’s terrible either way [and] presents safety concerns [as to] whether or not they were going to do anything else.”
Campus Reform reached out to the university for comment but did not receive a response in time for publication.
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