SEATTLE - A shredded American flag, fights breaking out, the strong smell of sage overtaking Red Square and shouting across police barricades was the scene at the University of Washington campus on Saturday.
“We’re here to fight back against the far right and fascism on our campus,” said one of the speakers opposing the group “Patriot Prayer” and their on-campus rally.
More than a thousand people marched to the rally at Red Square opposing College Republicans who invited “Patriot Prayer,” a group based in Vancouver, Washington, to speak on campus.
Sean Moore and Tyler Bykonon, both sophomores at the University of Washington and both against the presence of the group on school grounds, say it was empowering to be at the rally.
“Obviously, I’m not a fan of these guys coming to our campus and making a huge statement. They’re coming out and attracting resources,” said Moore. Moore says the Patriot’s Prayer group, many of whom were wearing MAGA hats support President Trump’s agenda, which Moore says he fiercely disagrees with.
“I’m not a fan of the President and these people are fans so I want to come out here and say this is not ok. And what you’re doing is not okay,” said Moore.
People like Kathryn Townsend, who voted for Trump says the opposition doesn’t understand what the group is about.
“I saw a lot of anger on both sides. I learned that they thought my vote was a hate crime,” said Townsend.
She’s says she’s attended more than 17 rallies this past year and says Patriot Prayer is not about fascism like the opposition claims.
“Let’s go out there and drown them out with a positive message. We refuse to accept a fascist America, we’re going to drown out your whole fascist regime,” said one of the speakers for the opposing side.
Cybil Ortega with Patriot Prayer agrees the group is not about fascism or violence at all.
“It’s very disappointing, because we’re not about violence at all. And it’s disappointing it gets turned around on us, when it’s the other side that’s the violent ones,” said Ortega.
University police say they arrested five people on misdemeanor charges. Seattle Police assisted university officers by keeping the two groups separate.
A man who goes by “Tiny” from the Patriot Prayer group says he’s been all over the country with the group and says the opposition never wants to have a conversation. He attempted to cross into their side of the protest and talk to their members.
“Having a civil conversation is the only way we can bring people together, is them understanding what we believe in and the reason we support Donald trump and why we do what we do. Freedom of speech and for us to understand what they are about and what they are against. The thing is we have different views but we still have the same rights. This is America,” said Tiny.
Both sides vowed they’d be back at public rallies to make their voices heard.