Group says UW charging school's Republican group $17K security fee for right-wing speaker

SEATTLE — The University of Washington is charging the school's College Republicans group a $17,000 security fee for a tentative appearance by the founder of the right-wing group Patriot Prayer, according to a conservative group.

According to a news release by Freedom X, a nonprofit law firm supporting conservative and religious freedom, the UW College Republicans applied to use Red Square on Feb. 10 for an appearance by Joey Gibson of Patriot Prayer at a “freedom rally.”

Freedom X claims the security demand is based on the conservative viewpoints that will be expressed at the event.

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The organization says counter-protesters from the left-wing group Solidarity Against Hate may show up to disrupt the event.

In August, a Patriot Prayer Freedom Rally in downtown Seattle turned violent when counter protesters from Solidarity Against Hate showed up. Police did not allow them to reach the rally in Westlake Park.

A barricade separated the protesters as police officers in riot gear stood by. Police said they used pepper spray and blast balls to disperse crowds after fireworks were thrown at officers. Three men were arrested.

On Monday, Freedom X says it sent a letter to the university’s president demanding the college rescind the fee, arguing that authorities cannot impose a fee for speaking based on the estimated costs of security.

If UW does not rescind its demand, Freedom X said it will seek an injunction in federal court.