More aggressive stance taken at University of Washington encampment

May 7, 2024, 6:10 PM

pro-Israel march liberated zone encampment...

Protesters continue to gather at the liberated zone encampment on UW's campus on May 7, 2024. (Photo: James Lynch, KIRO Newsradio)

(Photo: James Lynch, KIRO Newsradio)

The pro-Palestinian encampment at the University of Washington (UW) is now in its second week and continues to grow. There are too many tents to count, and as many as 200 people participating.

There also seems to be a shift in the mood. There were several people wearing all black, some were carrying gas masks and one man was carrying what looked like a can of bear spray. Police said it is legal to carry but it could be an indication that trouble is expected.

“We all believe in a variety of tactics. I’m out here cooking meals for people and there are different people who have different ideas on how to address issues here today,” encampment spokesperson Mathieu Chabaud said.

Past coverage: ‘I’m here as a Jewish person:’ UW pro-Palestinian encampment expands to 60 tents

About a five-minute walk from the encampment, on the Hub lawn, conservative activist, and founder of the conservative TurningPointUSA, Charlie Kirk was holding the first of two events on campus. The first was his “Prove Me Wrong” event, where people challenged Kirk on any number of issues. There was a heavy security presence – UW Police and a private, plain clothes, security team to protect Kirk. The crowd was relatively small, about 60 people.

However, people in the encampment asked the university to cancel Kirk’s visit, but their request was denied.

“He has consistently put forth a racist, homophobic and sexist agenda on college campuses,” Chabaud said. “When we look at the rollback of diversity programs across the south … he’s pretty much directly to blame right there, so that’s just the tip of the reason why I don’t think he should be welcome on this campus.”

UW spokesman Victor Balta sent a statement to KIRO Newsradio, stating that UW organizations are free to invite speakers.

“Charlie Kirk was invited to speak by one of the UW’s registered student organizations, which are free to extend invitations to guest speakers,” Balta stated. “Our priority is the safety and security of our campus community. We recognize that tensions are especially high due to events around the world and our hope is that people with opposing views refrain from seeking confrontations and avoid antagonizing one another.”

The university said it continues to monitor developments in the encampment and will take the appropriate actions to ensure campus safety.

You can read more of James Lynch’s stories here. Follow James on X, formerly known as Twitter, or email him here.

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