Michigan State University has agreed to allow the famous white nationalist Richard Spencer to speak at a campus auditorium, and the school is aware of the large security costs that the event may incur , as new court documents reveal.
An arrangement reached on Thursday in a lawsuit filed by Cameron Padgett, Spencer's sidekick, against MSU president Lou Anna Kimsey Simon allows Padgett to book an auditorium within the Agriculture and Livestock Pavilion on March 5 for "an event with speeches from Spencer and other participants. "
Padgett, a student at Georgia State University who often works as a reserve agent and legal advocate for Spencer, had tried to rent a space on campus for a appearance of Spencer during the summer. But MSU denied his request in August, citing security concerns stemming from the violence at the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, the week before, a meeting Spencer had attended.
Padgett, with the help of white nationalist lawyer Kyle Bristow, sued MSU, which resulted in Thursday's agreement.
"I always knew we would win," Richard Spencer told HuffPost in a text message. "It sets a great precedent."
Bristow said in an email that the agreement was a "decisive First Amendment victory for the Alt-Right." Left-wing censorship of right-wing ideas in academia is unacceptable. "
"Richard Spencer speaks and MSU pays," he added.
Under the agreement, Padgett will have to pay $ 1,650.00 to rent the campus auditorium in East Lansing. But the university is responsible for choosing the security tab, which according to a similar appearance by Spencer last year will cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Padgett, Spencer and people affiliated with Spencer's group, National Policy Institute, can not hold any other meeting or event on campus, a stipulation probably inserted by MSU to prevent white nationalists from holding another violent march of tiki torches, as they did at the University of Virginia the night before its rally in Charlottesville.
In a statement, Simon said that MSU "is totally dedicated to freedom of expression, not only as a public institution, but as an institution of higher education." Here, ideas – not people – are bound to collide and be evaluated in function of its merits. "
The agreement, he said, "was based on the university's requirement that the event occur on a date and in a place that minimizes the risk of violence or campus disruption."
"The State of Michigan rejects the divisive and racist messages of this group and remains committed to maintaining a diverse campus and supporting an inclusive, just and democratic society."
Since the Charlottesville rally, which was attended by more than 1,000 white supremacists and ended with a neo-Nazi allegedly driving a car against a crowd of protesters, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer and injuring 19 others – Padgett and Bristow have been busy demanding or threatening to sue a lot of state universities that have refused to allow Spencer to speak.
This has resulted in universities facing a costly dilemma: denying Spencer a place and potentially losing a costly lawsuit in the First Amendment arguments; or let him bring his hate and potentially violent fanboys on campus, and pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxpayer money for security reasons.
In September, the University of Florida, after initially denying Spencer, allowed him to speak in the auditorium of a campus. The university was legally obligated to pay more than $ 500,000 in security costs for the event, approximately equal to the annual tuition for 78 undergraduate students in the state.
Finally, the speeches of Spencer and his team at the University of Florida were amusingly drowned by the counter-demonstrating rioters inside the auditorium, while thousands of anti-racist protesters gathered outside.
Afterward, however, three Spencer white supremacist fans, who had traveled to the university for the event, were arrested for firing a gun at protesters. Nobody was hurt.
According to Bristow, Padgett is currently suing the University of Cincinnati, the Ohio State University and the Pennsylvania State University for the refusal of those schools to offer a place for Spencer.
Padgett has also threatened to sue the University of Michigan, said Bristow. The president of that university has said he is in negotiations with Padgett about a sure way to allow Spencer to speak at school.
In his email to HuffPost, Bristow added that Padgett has also recently attempted to establish another Spencer event, this set for an intentionally provocative date in Ohio.
"My client contacted the Kent yesterday State University to rent a room on campuses on the anniversary of the Ohio National Guard's shooting of violent leftist protesters, "he wrote, referring to the infamous death of four anti-Vietnam War protesters at the 4th school May 1970.
In a tweet, Bristow added that Padgett plans to speak and will invite Spencer and fellow white nationalist Mike Peinovich (also known as Mike Enoch) to "talk about the Antifa shooting + how universities can respond"
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