A college Republican rally in Seattle turned violent on Saturday after more than 1,000 counter-protesters showed up to oppose the event.
Five people were reportedly arrested at the University of Washington after fights broke out, and at least one American flag was burned, in response to College Republicans having invited members of Patriot Prayer to speak in the university’s Red Square for a “freedom rally,” the Seattle Times reported.
According to College Republicans President Chevy Swanson, the purpose of the rally was to bring conservatives together and promote free-speech rights. During the event, supporters chanted “U-S-A!, U-S-A!” and carried signs, including one that read, “We died for liberty not socialism.”
“We’re here to fight back against the far right and fascism on our campus,” one counter-protester told reporters.
“I learned that they thought my vote was a hate crime,” Trump supporter Kathryn Townsend told Seattle’s Q13 Fox.
As tensions ramped up and fights broke out, police responded with pepper spray. Those arrested were charged with disorderly conduct, according to University of Washington police.
Prior to the event, university officials were concerned about the potential for violence at the rally, and the school’s president had warned students to avoid the area.
Five people were arrested, American flags burned and police officers used bicycle barricades and pepper spray to separate demonstrators at the University of Washington’s Red Square today https://t.co/0w3YQfujWo
— The Seattle Times (@seattletimes) February 11, 2018
Police on the move as fights broke out and opposition crowd moves in front of Suzzallo library. Very peaceful on Patriots Prayer side. pic.twitter.com/DREqfpEVmf
— Tatevik Aprikyan (@TatevikAprikyan) February 10, 2018