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Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Washington Legislature. Austin Jenkins is the Olympia correspondent for the Northwest News Network. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) weekly public affairs program "Inside Olympia."

Protesters Face-Off At Washington Capitol Over Syrian Refugees

Austin Jenkins
Northwest News Network
At the Washington Capitol Friday, pro-refugee counter-demonstrators face-off with participants in a planned rally in opposition of allowing Syrian refugees to come to the United States.

Pro-refugee demonstrators disrupted a planned rally at the Washington state Capitol Friday against allowing Syrian refugees into the United States.

On the steps of the Capitol, several dozen demonstrators held signs that read “No Refugees” and “Why Put Us in Danger.” As a speaker declared, “ISIS must be destroyed.”

The counter-demonstrators -- some wearing masks -- tried to drown out the rally, chanting, “Refugees are welcome are here.”

A line of State Patrol troopers kept the two sides separate . Beforehand, rally organizer Virginia Coverdale faced off with a counter demonstrator named Tyra Lindquist.

“We have an enemy who has told us they are in this migration,” Coverdale said. “They have said ‘We are embedded, we are coming.’”

“Okay, so you are willing to close the door on people who are bloody and hungry?” Lindquist asked.

“For now until we get a plan in how we can surgically remove those people,” Coverdale responded.

Lindquist said, “There is no plan.” To which Coverdale said, “Thank you for admitting that, there’s no plan.”

Washington Governor Jay Inslee's position supports President Obama and has made national headlines. Congress and a number of governors have taken sides since last week's attacks in Paris over whether to let Syrians settle in the U.S.

More than 10,000 international refugees have come to Washington state over the last five years. The Yakima Herald-Republic reports that 28 of them have been from Syria.

Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia-based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy, as well as the Washington State Legislature. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia."