JASON RANTZ

Rantz: UW Seattle students create autonomous ‘Liberated Zone’ with library, medic tent, no free speech rights

May 2, 2024, 2:03 PM | Updated: 4:21 pm

Photo: UW Seattle students set up an autonomous Liberated Zone for a "Free Palestine." It features ...

UW Seattle students set up an autonomous Liberated Zone for a "Free Palestine." It features a library, but no free speech rights. (Photo: James Lynch, KIRO Newsradio)

(Photo: James Lynch, KIRO Newsradio)

Student activists at the University of Washington (UW) in Seattle have set up an autonomous Liberated Zone on campus, also known as the University of Gaza. It features a medic and library according to a professor, but no free speech rights. And it’s growing.

This is the second anti-Israel encampment as the movement continues to grow unimpeded since the first one was erected earlier this week. It started at around six tents, but there are now upwards of 50 tents. They also have stacks of wooden pallets they will use to fortify the encampment. According to a police source, they believe they’re making shields, as well.

It’s currently occupied by activists who appear to be students. There are, however, others who appear older than student-age. They wear COVID-era face masks to obscure their identities.

There are technically two encampments now, one called the Liberated Zone. It’s meant to mirror the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone (CHAZ) from 2020 during the Black Lives Matter/Antifa riots. It’s maintained by extremist members of the UW United Front for Palestinian Liberation. They did not want anything to do with the UW Progressive Student Union because its membership is too white.

More from Jason Rantz: Watch an unhinged student yell ‘shame’ at pro-Israel man at UW encampment

What does the autonomous UW Liberated Zone stand for?

The radicals behind the UW Liberated Zone are circulating a flyer that offers “community guidelines” for visitors to their autonomous zone. The flyer is filled with anti-Israel propaganda and student delusions.

The flyer falsely claims that Israel has committed a 76-year-long genocide of Palestinians. An important note: Jews are really bad at genocide given the Palestinian population has surged during the assault on innocent life.

The radicals include an unironic land acknowledgment as they illegally occupy land they claim was illegally occupied. It may only be accessed to “all who support a Free Palestine.”

Much like CHAZ, there are no free speech rights in the Liberated Zone. Organizers said supporters may “not speak to any authorities — police officers, administrators, or press — without first consulting a designated liaison.” They vow not to photograph or video record supporters “without their affirmative consent” and ask people to “conceal your identity.”

They say they will refuse “to comply with any demands if the University of Washington Police Department, Seattle Police Department, private investigators, or UW admin try to force us to disclose the identities of any of our fellow students.”

Photo: The radicals behind the UW Liberated Zone are circulating a flyer that offers "community guidelines" for visitors to their autonomous zone.

The radicals behind the UW Liberated Zone are circulating a flyer that offers “community guidelines” for visitors to their autonomous zone. (Photo: Jason Rantz, KTTH)

UW professor stalked and blocked when filming

When UW Professor Stuart Reges visited the new autonomous zone, it was not hospitable. He exclusively told “The Jason Rantz Show” on KTTH that after he attempted to film the encampment, activists tried blocking his view with an umbrella (a tool of choice for Antifa) and started to follow him.

“I decided to do some filming and they kind of freaked out,” Reges explained. “They were they were saying, ‘Cover your face, cover your face. This man is filming! Oh my God.’ And then they said ‘You’re not allowed to do this.’ And I said, ‘What do you mean, this is a public space?’ (They responded) ‘No, it’s not. It’s a private space. You’re not allowed to do this here.’

Reges said in addition to using the umbrella, they were following him as he was walking around. And he calls out the lack of leadership from UW president Ana Marie Cauce.

“I think that she has shown herself to be feckless in this,” he said.

UW Liberated Zone earns institutional support

In an internal email sent to the American Association of University Professors UW listserv (AAUP-UW), the new autonomous zone is being celebrated.

Professor James Pfeiffer, Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (Dept of Global Health), sent a glowing email marveling at the Liberated Zone’s “medic tent, supply depot, and a small library.”

“It is remarkable how committed these students are given the possible risk to themselves and their futures. The students will not let us turn away from the appalling war crimes the U.S. is funding, and they deserve faculty support and protection,” Pfeiffer said.

Pfeiffer ignored the violence and vandalism by activists around the country, claiming they have “come from outside agitators, counter-protestors (eg UCLA), and the police themselves.”

“Much like the dozens of other Gaza protest encampments at universities around the country, the student encampment at UW is multi-religious (Muslim, Jewish, Christian, Hindu), multiracial, multiethnic and totally peaceful. What a contrast to the other political culture that has engulfed the country,” he wrote.

Read this ‘script’

Jason Groves, an Associate Professor in the Department of German Studies, passed along a note from the UW Liberated Zone leadership via the AAUP-UW listserv.

The students have invited faculty, staff, and other community members to take action “by emailing and calling the university administration, urging them to protect the student liberated zone and stand on the right side of history.”

They have suggested this script and particular recipients: “As a member of the broader Seattle community, I am watching the UW’s treatment of our student protesters. I urge your office to protect students, their liberated zone, and their rights to advocate for justice.”

He included contact information for UW President Cauce, the Vice Provost and Dean Ed Taylor, and Vice President for Minority Affairs & Diversity Rickey Hall.

But they may not have to press Cauce too hard for support.

Tacit approval that will end poorly

In a show of her cowardly leadership, Cauce is doing the absolute bare minimum to address the encampments.

She had sandwich boards placed around campus reminding students it’s illegal to camp on their grounds. But why would student activists care? Laws rarely apply to left-wing radicals. It’s why they immediately removed the signs, vandalizing some.

Cauce is also offering her tacit approval by not intervening. Her office did not respond to a request for comment.

This will not end well for the UW — or its Jewish students. CHAZ ended after daily violence and vandalism. But it was the murders of black boys that undid the autonomous zone. What bar must the autonomous zone reach before Cauce acts?

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