University of Washington police briefly detained six far-right activists, including a U.S. Senate candidate, after they brought firearms to campus as a display of gun rights, according to a UW police spokesperson.
Major Steven Rittereiser said the department received a report at 12:37 p.m. of a “man with a rifle” and dispatched officers to a parking garage, where they encountered six men standing around two cars. At least one of the men was openly carrying a rifle, Rittereiser said. Police also identified five handguns belonging to the men.
"What we learned is they were going to do some kind of open carry kind of thing on the campus. We simply informed them you can’t do that on campus,” Rittereiser said.
Washington State administrative code prohibits firearms on university campuses. Though according to Rittereiser, none of the men committed an arrestable offense.
"Bringing a gun to campus leads to a progressive step where you could be trespassed from the campus," he said. "It never got to that level. We simply said take your stuff and go on your merry way."
Joey Gibson, who held a rally at UW in February, was among the six men detained in the parking garage. His organization, Patriot Prayer, regularly holds rallies along the West Coast that break out into violent clashes between anti-fascist protestors and Gibson’s supporters. Gibson, who is running a long shot campaign to unseat U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell, did not respond to request for comment.
A cell phone video of the incident, captured by Patriot Prayer member Tusitala Toese, shows the men lying facedown on the floor as officers ask them where their guns are located.
Early in the video, an officer can be heard asking Toese why he is recording.
“For my safety,” he answers. Toese, better known as “Tiny,” was arrested last year during a protest in Portland on charges of disorderly conduct, harassment and assault.
Another officer can be heard saying, “I’m assuming this is not an intent of any sort of wrongdoing. It’s just maybe somebody being concerned about what’s going on in calling us."
As the video progresses, officers can be heard handcuffing the men, and the men can be heard joking with each other and making conversation with the officers. At one point, an officer asks them if they were in the military. They say they were not.
At least one of the men can be heard saying he is a member of the Proud Boys, another far-right club that the Southern Poverty Law Center has designated a hate group.
Toward the end of the video, one of the officers explains to the men that firearms are prohibited on university campuses.
Gibson and Patriot Prayer held an open carry rally yesterday at Westlake to protest "gun-free zones."
Days after the Santa Fe high school shooting, U.S. Senate candidate Joey Gibson and his far-right group, Patriot Prayer, is holding an open carry rally at Westlake. About two dozen supporters are here. pic.twitter.com/1lUUm0Uyau
— Steven Hsieh (@stevenjhsieh) May 20, 2018