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Organizers call Milo Yiannopoulos’ speech successful despite violent protests at UW

SEATTLE – The man shot during violent protests last Friday was listed in serious condition Monday afternoon at Harborview Medical Center.

The shooting happened during protests in University of Washington’s Red Square and during a speech given by controversial conservative speaker Milo Yiannopoulos inside Kane Hall.

Despite the violence, student organizers are calling the event a success even though some believe police could have done more to keep the peace.

The University of Washington Police Department told Q13 News its detectives interviewed and released the man believed to have opened fire on Friday night, but did not elaborate what could have been the shooter's motive. He could still face charges.

A group of protesters forced police to shut down access to Friday’s speech. Student organizers said they believe police could have done better to make sure everyone both inside and outside the event was safe.

“I thought that to a certain point we were going to have to shut it down,” said Jessie Gamble, president of College Republicans at the University of Washington.

There was pushing, shoving and chaos outside Kane Hall Friday night. Masked protesters rushed the barricades stopping hundreds from getting inside to see controversial editor at Breitbart news, Milo Yiannopoulos, speak.

“The students were peaceful from what I saw, it was more the community members from the anti-fascist movement that came in and started wreaking havoc,” said Gamble.

“As the event unfolded, we had challenges maintaining the line,” said UW Police Chief John Vinson.

Organizers said they were only able to fill about half the seats inside Kane Hall after protesters blocked lines and police closed off entry points.

“Our number one goal was to work with the group to ensure that number 1, everyone could exercise their First Amendment but also that we could have a safe environment,” said Vinson.

“The fact that we got the 200-250 in there at half capacity was a success in my book,” said Gamble.

Gamble said police did well keeping people inside safe, but she wonders if they could have done more to stop protesters from blocking access to Milo’s speech.

“I wish police maybe would have taken a greater step to forcibly stopping these people from doing that,” said Gamble. “Otherwise that sets a pretty bad precedent, that pretty much the anti-fascist movement can bully anyone they like and push people around.”

 

On Friday, Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole defended the decision to not clear out Red Square when protests turned violent.

“Sometimes we can create more chaos by giving an order to disperse,” said O’Toole.

Norman Arkans from UW shared a statement with Q13 News regarding Friday’s violent protests.

“We had a comprehensive crowd control plan in place, coordinated with substantial collaboration with the Seattle Police Department. The goal was to allow the event to proceed while maintaining order among the protesters and those there to attend the event. Roughly 200 SPD officers and 25 UWPD officers participated. Aside from the shooting incident, which was very specific and localized, the police succeeded fairly well in maintaining order. About half those who came to attend the event got in; the other half did not as it was decided to stop trying to get them through the protesters.

We will take the same consideration as we did here: to assess risk, determine whether an event can proceed, and plan for and provide adequate security.”