SEATTLE - A 34-year-old man said he feels empathy for the man who shot him Friday night, outside a University of Washington event that featured a conservative speaker who is a member of the "alt-right," which is a white nationalist movement.
The university’s College Republicans hosted Milo Yiannopoulos, who is known for making inflammatory statements that have gotten him banned from Twitter.
On a night when crowds protesting President Trump’s inauguration joined the group protesting Yiannopoulos, violent clashes erupted with supporters attending the event.
Witnesses told KIRO 7 that there were about 30 people in a confrontation at the time of the shooting. A group of protesters and a group of supporters started shoving each other. Others remained in groups by the steps of Kane Hall.
“The individual who was shot – in one of my pictures you can see him screaming at the older man. And it looked like he was one of the people that was being physical,” said Joseph Wankelman, who came to observe the activity in the square.
Wankelman said, “The older man threw a piece of cloth or a shirt or something at the protestors, and you heard a thud. It almost sounded like a newspaper stand falling over. It was a lower thud. It didn’t sound like a high-caliber pistol or anything.”
Sarah Lippek, an attorney who is representing the shooting victim, Josh Dukes, said he was protesting Yiannopoulos’ message.
Lippek wrote in an email:
“My client wishes to express his empathy for the person who shot him. He hopes to engage in constructive dialogue with that person, in order to de-escalate and provide a community-based response to this violence.
My client believes a restorative justice-informed community response to Friday’s violence is the ethical and effective path forward, given the glaring inadequacies of the police response and their inability to provide meaningful resolution to conflict, and the general inability of a punitive system to address the needs of the community.”
Two University of Washington professors told KIRO 7 at the scene that they were outraged because the school didn’t take student safety into consideration.
Rachel Chapman, a professor of anthropology at UW, said, “We could have anticipated this and maybe as a community, thought of another way to have a real conversation and debate.”
But over the weekend, UW President Ana Mari Cauce said the school must allow for free speech, even when the speaker may be highly controversial.
Lippek said the police actions were inadequate that night, as they failed to create a crime scene and failed to give a dispersal order to the crowd.
Staff from the university press office told KIRO 7 that police did an excellent job of maintaining order. They said the university has a committee that approves events lsuch as this.
The committee approved the event long before the outcome of the presidential election. When it was determined that there would be protest against President Trump’s inauguration and that Yiannopoulos’ event at UC Davis caused a major disruption, UW increased its security for the event.
The University of Washington is a gun-free campus, but staff said it is difficult to check every person for a concealed weapon, as Red Square is a large, open plaza with no gated boundaries.
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