A masked man who appeared to be a member of Antifa has been arrested for attempting to lock a group of College Republicans in a room at the University of Washington-Seattle on Wednesday.
Ezra Benner, 18, has been charged with disorderly conduct, but the victims intend to pursue an additional charge of unlawful imprisonment.
The incident took place while the College Republicans were hosting a speaker from the Operation Cold Front YouTube channel. A local Antifa group had been calling for disruption of the event on Facebook, urging people to attend with whistles or other noise makers so they could drown out the speaker.
“A few days before the event, we received a tip that Antifa was calling for people to come disrupt the meeting, but we weren’t too worried about that since that type of thing happens all the time,” UW College Republicans President Chevy Swanson told Campus Reform.
The post from Emerald City Antifa said “there’s space for 100 or so people, but for those who show up, some useful tactics might to sit in using large items that take up additional seats, maybe with headphones in so you don’t have to hear their garbage, or noise demo tactics such as whistles to make it difficult for them to speak over.” They added, “if you’re able, show up to deplatform.”
Approximately 45 minutes into the event, a masked man went up to the main window and began to tie a chain around the door handles to lock the attendees inside. Swanson was able to realize what was happening and push the door open before it could be locked.
“We’ve had a lot of incidents in the past. We’ve had members of our club assaulted. As soon as it happened, I realized what was going on. Chain on a metal door handle is a very distinct sound,” Swanson said. “We would have been locked in, so I decided that the best course of action was to jump up and push the door before he could lock us in.”
Attendees then chased the masked man down and performed a citizen’s arrest, detaining him for approximately five minutes, until police arrived.
The incident was captured on video by Operation Cold Front. The incident begins approximately 49 minutes into the video.
UW Police confirmed to KTTH that Benner attends a special high school class on campus.