PULLMAN, Wash. — The Washington State University College Republicans held a "Build the Wall - Bill of Rights" rally on the Pullman campus Tuesday.
WSU College Republicans President Amir Rezamand said the group would not build a replica border wall like it did in 2016, but instead called the rally a "First and Second Amendment demonstration."
"This is just a free speech demonstration. We are not here to talk about border policy," Rezamand said. "We are concerned about First and Second Amendment issues in the state of Washington."
Rezamand also cited his anti-war stance and the ongoing legal proceedings involving WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.
The WSU College Republicans also invited leaders of right-wing groups to speak about the Bill of Rights, including Joey Gibson of Patriot Prayer and Matt Marshall of Washington 3 Percenters.
The Washington 3 Percenters are a state chapter affiliated with the national 3 Percenters, a group that has sometimes been called anti-government, although the group disputes that claim. The group is well known for promoting 2nd Amendment rights and fewer gun restrictions.
Patriot Prayer made headlines over the past couple of years in the Portland-Vancouver area. The group often clashed with another activist group, Antifa, and their dueling protests sometimes resulted in a heavy police response.
On the WSU campus Tuesday, Marshall and Gibson engaged in debate with students on both sides of the political aisle.
"I might learn something from them, they might learn something from me, and we're having a civil debate. We've lost that in America and everything's gotten way to heated and way too intense," Marshall told KREM's Amanda Roley.
Roley spoke with Marshall following a heated discussion about gun restrictions with WSU junior Chloe Williams.
“She was going after gun laws and speaking from a point that was very well educated and that’s why we’re here," Marshall said.
Williams, who was on her way to class, said she wanted to engage the campus visitors but did not feel any progress following the talk.
"I think there's no changing these people's minds," Williams said.
WSU student Rick Flores, who was wearing orange in support of multicultural and undocumented students in counter-protest, spoke with KREM Reporter Amanda Roley at the rally. Flores said students were there to show support for undocumented and multicultural students but didn't plan on engaging with the WSU College Republicans.
"We're just out here to show support. We have a few people out here to show that we are united, we are here for each other," Flores said.
Flores also said that a debate was held between the different student political groups on campus recently, and that the WSU College Republicans chose not to attend.
"There would have been more meaningful discussion" if the group had participated in the debate, Flores said.
WSU Vice President of Marketing and Communications Phil Weiler said the WSU Police Department prepared for the rally and used a public safety plan, which is standard procedure for all large gatherings on campus.
The Associated Students of Washington State University President Savannah Rogers issued a statement after the rally saying:
ASWSU encourages constructive dialogue, but don’t support an event that threatens the emotional mental, physical of safety and wellbeing of all students.
Students did vocalize they did not feel safe with what was supposed to happen at the rally today. It’s important to look to events that are unifying to us, such as current unity week.
ASWSU wants to support all students so they feel secure and safe on our campus, especially underrepresented and undocumented students who are overlooked.
In October 2016, the group built an 8-by-20-foot wall inspired by then-Presidential candidate Donald Trump to show support for his campaign. Four hundred people attended the event, with 75 of those attendees receiving invitations.
Weiler said in November 2018 that the College Republicans originally planned to construct the wall on Nov. 27, but the organization canceled the event because they didn't have enough money to pay for the project.
WSU College Republicans’ Amir Rezamand created a GoFundMe page with a goal of raising $2,500 to buy building materials to make a new wall that's ten feet higher than the last, and pay for rent, security equipment, personnel and obtain necessary permits.
That GoFundMe has currently raised $1,600 of the $2,500 goal.
There is no set date for the new wall construction.