Do better, UW: protect your community, not divisive speech that incites violence

Statement on red square rally scheduled for Feb. 10th

Last year, the University of Washington College Republicans (UWCR) sponsored an event featuring Milo Yiannopoulos, the right-wing troll known for his racism, sexism, and defense of pedophilia. At this event, two of his supporters assaulted counter-protesters with pepper spray, and eventually shot one man in the stomach, leaving him critically wounded. Instead of condemning this attempt at murder, UWCR blamed the victims for “inciting violence and disobedience” in an official statement, which read in part “If you keep prodding the right you may be unpleasantly surprised what the outcome will be.” In other words, if you disagree with the right wing, expect violence in return.

Just over a year later, the UWCR is hosting an event at UW’s Red Square featuring Patriot Prayer, a right-wing group that often attracts violent white nationalist groups to its rallies. Rather than standing up to the violence and hatred of the far right, UW has capitulated to the UWCR and its allies. Knowing that this event will make the campus unsafe for people of color, several scheduled events have been cancelled, including a Young, Gifted and Black conference for black high-school students. The president has asked the university community to avoid the area due to possible violence. This sends a clear message that UW prioritizes white supremacists over the safety of its students, staff, and faculty.

We call on the University of Washington to protect its students, faculty and staff. Incitations of violence are not protected speech. Racism, hatred, and the threat of violence should not be condoned by the administration.