University again rejects speaking date for white nationalist
CINCINNATI (AP) — Kent State University, facing the threat of a lawsuit, reiterated on Friday that it cannot accommodate a request to allow white nationalist Richard Spencer to speak in early May as part of his campus tour.
The university, which is based in Kent but has regional campuses elsewhere in the state, said it had responded to attorney Kyle Bristow reaffirming its earlier response that no suitable space is available for Spencer to speak between April 30 and May 12.
Bristow had told Kent State it had until the end of business Friday to agree to rent space at an “acceptable date and time” or face a lawsuit. Several other schools, including Ohio State University and the University of Cincinnati, are in litigation over Spencer.
Tour organizer Cameron Padgett wanted Spencer to speak at Kent State on the May 4 anniversary of Ohio National Guard shootings that killed four students during anti-war protests in 1970. The university said early May is too busy with activities around the end of the academic year.
Bristow said last year that Spencer planned to speak March 14 on the University of Cincinnati campus, but the university said there was no contract in place, and the two sides are now in a legal standoff over the university’s demand for a security fee of nearly $11,000.
Bristow sued the university last month, saying requiring such payment because a speaker is controversial or prompts hostile reaction is discriminatory and unconstitutional. The university said it expected to spend much more on security than the fee. The March date falls during the university’s spring break.
The university on Feb. 2 asked a federal judge to dismiss the lawsuit as meritless, saying the organizer hadn’t paid the fee or obtained required insurance.
Last August, Spencer was a scheduled speaker at a Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, that led to deadly violence. A loosely connected mix of white nationalists, neo-Nazis and other far-right extremists assembled for the largest gathering of its kind in a decade, drawing counter-protesters. A man plowed his car into a crowd of the counter-protesters, killing Heather Heyer.
Spencer has popularized the term “alt-right” to refer to a fringe movement that’s a mix of white nationalist, white supremacist, anti-Semitic and anti-immigrant beliefs.
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