The provocative far-right firebrand spoke at Kane Hall Friday night, mocking liberals to big laughs and a standing ovation. Dozens protested outside the hall, and one person suffered potentially life-threatening injuries from a gunshot wound to the abdomen.
One man was shot and wounded, several people were hit with paint and officers avoided flying bricks outside the University of Washington’s Kane Hall on Friday night, where Breitbart News editor and provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos addressed a crowd on President Trump’s Inauguration Day.
The 34-year-old shooting victim was in critical condition Saturday morning after undergoing surgery, at Harborview Medical Center, spokeswoman Susan Gregg said.
A man turned himself in to University of Washington police and was arrested in connection with the shooting, police say.
A chaotic confrontation between ticket-holders and protesters started early in the evening in Red Square with shouts and fights. Authorities reported a man in the crowd had been shot in the abdomen. Medics took him to Harborview Medical Center with potentially life-threatening injuries, the Seattle Fire Department said.
Yiannopoulos, who came at the invitation of the university’s student College Republicans club, briefly left the stage to confirm the shooting. Minutes later, he returned, saying, “If we don’t continue, they have won.” The crowd cheered.
The event was free but was sold out by reservation. His talk, which mocked liberals to big laughs and was greeted with a standing ovation, began just after 8 p.m.
Earlier, Jessie Gamble, president of UW College Republicans, said she feared no one would be able to make it into the 700-seat auditorium because of skirmishes. Police formed a line outside to help ticket-holders get in, but protesters surrounded them. As the speech was about to begin, the lower seats in the hall were more than half-filled. The lower tier holds about 530 people, and the upper tier was not used.
Once the speech ended, police told the audience to remove their pro-Trump hats and other gear before leaving the lecture hall. Officers escorted the crowd out through an underground parking garage as a crowd of about 250 people remained outside the building.
Gayle Hammersley, a UW student, stood with friends in the middle of Red Square holding a sign that displayed her opposition to the speech. “We’re not OK with fascism and racism,” she said. “I don’t think this should be allowed.”
Jimmy Michalec came up from Auburn with friends to hear the speech. He was wearing a red “Make America Great Again” hat, but he said he was a libertarian, and voted for Gary Johnson. He said he didn’t agree with the crowd’s tactics to try to shut down the speech, and believed everyone had a right to speak his or her mind.
Ava Meier, a Pierce College student, called Yiannopoulos “the most fabulous villain on the internet.”
“We’re so politically correct, he’s a breath of fresh air,” she said.
The provocative far-right editor’s controversial tweets resulted in his being banned for life from using Twitter.
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People began lining up for the speech late in the afternoon. The crowd began clashing about two hours later, when a group of people dressed in black showed up and forced its way to the front of the line. One man waved a black-and-red anti-fascist flag, and another shouted to the people in line: “Go back to Bellevue, rich kids!”
“White power,” one side shouted.
“Nazi scum,” the other side responded.
Some officers wore riot gear and carried batons. Crowds outside started throwing bricks and other items at officers, and several people were hit with blue paint.
Mara Kage, a University of Washington student from Brazil, held a sign with the word “respect” on it. She said Yiannopoulos, like Trump, was inciting hateful speech.
Yiannopoulos was supposed to speak at Washington State University on Thursday, but his touring van was stuck in Portland, unable to get to Pullman on Interstate 84 because of snow and ice. The sold-out talk there was canceled.
A week ago, Yiannopoulos’ talk at the University of California, Davis, was canceled when protesters surrounded the hall where he was scheduled to speak, blocking access and chanting. The student Republican club called off the speech, worried about student safety.
Before his talk at the UW, there were rumors that protesters would try to shut the speech down.
Yiannopoulos was banned from Twitter for racism and misogyny. In a speech last month at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, he mocked a transgender student, displaying her name and photo prominently on-screen. The school’s chancellor condemned the speech in a campuswide email.
The Breitbart tech editor, who is gay, uses a homophobic slur in the title of his college speaking tour. He has attacked specific college professors with personal insults, and described “rape culture” on college campuses as a myth.
Gamble, the College Republicans president who invited Yiannopoulos to speak, was herself the target of an online campaign that linked her to neo-Nazis and white supremacists and published her private phone number.
Yiannopoulos’ appearance prompted a campus discussion about free speech and what it means at a public college. Both UW President Ana Mari Cauce and WSU President Kirk Schulz were pressured to cancel the speech by thousands of people who signed an online petition, but the college presidents said it was important to let Yiannopoulos talk, even if many disagreed with his views.
After the shooting, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray released this statement: “Seattle has a long, proud tradition of speaking up and speaking out, but we will not tolerate violence of any kind, against any person. Thousands of Seattleites, including myself, will speak up and march peacefully throughout this weekend.”