On the evening of January 20, 2017, violent confrontations occurred on the campus of the University of Washington (UW) in Seattle during a speaking event featuring Breitbart News editor Milo Yiannopoulos. One man was shot during the confrontation, reportedly sustaining severe injuries.
Yiannopoulos, a controversial web personality who was banned for life from Twitter for racist and sexist posts, was invited to speak by the UW College Republicans, in an event scheduled to take place just a few hours after Donald Trump’s presidential inauguration. Large groups of anti-Trump and anti-Yiannopoulos protesters gathered outside the auditorium where the event took place; they reportedly clashed with individuals attempting to attend the event. Although confrontations were largely verbal, paint and bricks were thrown, and a man waiting to get into the event reportedly shot a 34-year-old protester in the abdomen after the two got into an altercation. The victim is expected to recover from his injuries.
Scholars at Risk is concerned about violence on campus. The right to free expression on campus must be exercised in a manner that is consistent with university values, including non-violence and social responsibility. In addition to the harm to the immediate victim, violence on campus chills academic freedom and undermines university autonomy.