Luc Hoekstra – Editor in Chief
Clark College’s official Facebook page, managed by Communications and Marketing Director Hannah Erickson, responded to plans announced on Facebook by Joey Gibson to hold protests at Clark and Washington State University Vancouver next week.
Gibson, a Vancouver resident, is the leader of Patriot Prayer, a far-right protest group known for holding protests in Portland that often turn violent. Patriot Prayer has been cited in Southern Poverty Law Center’s “hatewatch” reports.
Gibson’s announcement comes days after holding a “flash march” in Portland that resulted in multiple violent attacks. Many students and staff have voiced concern online that Clark is a conceal carry campus, but that campus security officers do not carry firearms. The featured photo on Patriot Prayer’s Facebook page for the Clark event shows a person carrying a knife and holding a firearm.
Clark’s Facebook page posted on Tuesday acknowledging the intentions of the group, to protest Initiative 1639 from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. at the Chime Tower outside the Cannell Library. The post also affirmed Clark’s status as a limited free speech forum.
For outside organizations to hold First Amendment activities, they must first submit an approval form to the college. In Fall 2017, a pro-life group that equates abortion to genocide planned to hold a protest at Clark, but backed out at the last minute because they did not file the correct paperwork, therefore not having Clark’s consent.
Gibson and Patriot Prayer have not contacted Clark or submitted an application for a First Amendment Activity.
Vice President of Instruction Dr. Sachi Horback sent a college-wide email on Wednesday morning citing 710.011(Referring to matters of conscience), RCW 1.16.050, and State Bill 5173. She said, “Should a student choose to stay home on Monday due to this anticipated event, please work with them without any negative repercussions for their absence. ”
Clark President Bob Knight notified the Clark community in an email Wednesday morning, saying that the college is discussing the possible event with Clark’s Attorney General and the Vancouver Police.
“We understand the concern many in the college community have about this event taking place at Clark College—especially members of systemically non-dominant groups,” Knight said in the email. “Hate has no place at Clark College and the safety of all faculty, staff, students, and visitors remains our paramount priority.”
The college will inform the Clark community of any updates about this situation.