A federal judge on Friday prohibited the University of Washington from charging the school’s College Republicans $17,000 in security fees for a far-right rally planned for Saturday.
The College Republicans plan to hold a 1 p.m. event at Red Square with Patriot Prayer, a Vancouver-based political group whose rallies have attracted white supremacists and often break out into violent clashes with counter demonstrators.
Joey Gibson, the founder of Patriot Prayer, has come under fire by anti-fascist protestors for allowing white nationalist activists, including members of the hate group Identity Evropa, to attend his rallies.
UW officials this week ordered the College Republicans to pay $17,000 in enhanced security fees, saying the money would help pay university police officers. The university implemented a security assessment protocol last year after somebody got shot outside a Milo Yiannapolous speaking event also hosted by the College Republicans.
The College Republicans sued the university over the fees, noting that the school charged other groups smaller security fees and claimed discrimination against for holding conservative views. "It is, in effect, a tax on protected speech,” the lawsuit claimed.
U.S. District Court Judge Marsha J. Pechman ruled in the College Republicans’ favor today, stating, "The guidelines of how the bill was calculated runs afoul (by) chilling speech,” according a Seattle Times reporter. The court will hold additional hearings on the constitutionality of UW’s security assessment process.
“We’re very pleased,” said attorney William Becker, General Counsel for California-based firm Freedom X, which advocates for extremist right views. (The firm’s website includes a section on “islamic indoctrination.”) He added, "The judge obviously understood our position well and recognized that the current policy at UW discriminates against certain groups."
Activists plan to hold a counter demonstration tomorrow, beginning at the Husky Union Building at noon, before marching into Red Square at 1 p.m.
When Patriot Prayer held a rally in Seattle, police prevented counter-demonstrators from interacting with the far-right activists. Officers pepper sprayed marchers who moved toward the rally.
Patriot Prayer came into the spotlight in October after it was revealed that the man who fatally stabbed two good samaritans on a train in Portland had earlier attended one of the group’s rallies.
Today, Patriot Prayer Olympia protested against Planned Parenthood. Gibson shared a live video feed from the demonstration on his Facebook feed, which includes a description that says, “Antifa homos on scene.”