Five people were arrested as fights broke out and at least one American flag was burned Saturday after a college Republican rally in Seattle drew counter-protesters.
College Republicans at the University of Washington had invited members of Patriot Prayer, a group in Vancouver, Wash., to speak in the university’s Red Square for a “freedom rally,” the Seattle Times reported.
The goals were to bring conservatives together and promote free-speech rights, College Republicans President Chevy Swanson told the Times. As the event got underway, supporters chanted “U-S-A!, U-S-A!,” and signs included one that read, “We died for liberty not socialism.”
“I’m here for the free speech rally,” said a man named Beau wearing a “Make UW Great Again” hat. Beau said that there were too many liberal events at UW.
“We should be able to hold events on campus,” a College Republican named Brandon said. The university asked the group to pay $17,000 for security in advance of the event. The group sued UW in federal court, and a judge on Friday ruled that the College Republicans did not have to pay the fee up-front.
Around 1 p.m., more than 100 counter-protesters marched into Red Square. Police had erected fences along the steps of Kane Hall, putting a wide buffer between the two groups.
The two sides were still able to shout at each other, however.
“You shut down Ben Shapiro [a conservative pundit]” said one man on the College Republicans side. “He’s a Jew! How can we be Nazis?”
“I learned that they thought my vote was a hate crime,” Kathryn Townsend, who said she voted for Donald Trump in 2016.