White nationalists impose deadline for OK on campus speeches
By MARK GILLISPIE, Associated Press
CLEVELAND (AP) — An attorney for associates of white nationalist leader Richard Spencer said Sunday he’ll sue Ohio State University and the University of Cincinnati if they don’t agree by Friday to make campus space available for Spencer to speak.
A Georgia college student, Cameron Padgett, contacted both universities last month about renting space in the latest effort to have Spencer speak on college campuses.
“Mr. Padgett and I are done waiting for your university’s review to be completed,” Michigan attorney Kyle Bristow wrote in emails sent to both universities on Sunday. “I imagine similar reviews are not required of politically left-wing events on campus, and your ‘review’ is therefore unconstitutionally discriminatory in and of itself.”
Bristow is the founder of a law firm dedicated to legal advocacy on behalf of a loose collection of white nationalists, white supremacists and anti-immigration populists called the alt-right.
Padgett asked the University of Cincinnati in late September to provide an auditorium to accommodate 800 people for Spencer to speak later this month. UC spokesman Greg Vehr said the university was assessing safety and logistical considerations. Vehr couldn’t be reached for comment on Sunday.
Padgett, who attends Georgia State University, submitted a second request to Ohio State after the first was denied last month. An OSU spokesman said the university was considering whether Spencer can be “accommodated without substantial risk to the safety of our students, faculty, staff and guests.” The spokesman had no additional comment on Sunday.
Spencer organized an August white nationalist rally that led to deadly violence in Charlottesville, Virginia. He’s a leading figure in the white nationalist movement advocating for an “ethno-state” that would be a “safe space” for white people.
The Charlottesville rally left universities across the U.S. bracing for more clashes between right-wing extremists and those who oppose them. It also left schools struggling to ensure campus safety in the face of recruiting efforts by white nationalist and neo-Nazi groups while balancing concerns over freedom of speech.
The Ohio universities are the latest in a series of schools targeted by Spencer since Charlottesville.
Spencer and his associates in April were denied a request to speak at Auburn University in Alabama, prompting a federal lawsuit against the university. A judge ruled against Auburn, which then allowed Spencer to speak as planned.