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White nationalist Richard Spencer bids to speak on shooting anniversary at US university

Kent State has not confirmed whether it will accept Spencer, who organised last year’s Unite the Right rally in which an anti-racist protester was killed

PUBLISHED : Friday, 19 January, 2018, 4:49am
UPDATED : Friday, 19 January, 2018, 4:53am

The campus tour organiser for white nationalist Richard Spencer is making a bid for him to speak at Kent State University on the 48th anniversary of the Vietnam war protest shootings that killed four students.

A university spokesman confirmed on Thursday that organiser Cameron Padgett has asked to rent space at Kent State’s Student Multicultural Centre on May 4. The university is reviewing the request, said Eric Mansfield, a Kent State spokesman.

Spencer, a leading figure in the white nationalist movement who was famously punched in the face while speaking to the media last year, has been barred by several schools from speaking on campus and has lawsuits pending against some.

A lawyer for Spencer and his tour organiser announced a lawsuit earlier this month against the University of Cincinnati’s president after the school would not rent space for Spencer to speak unless a security fee was paid.

The request for space at Kent State has been made for the same date that Ohio National Guard members fired into a crowd protesting the Vietnam war in 1970. Each year, the school remembers the shootings with events on campus.

Richard Spencer banned by 26 European countries

Schools that have rejected Spencer’s attempts to speak on their campuses have said they were concerned about the potential for violent clashes and protests.

Minor skirmishes broke out when Spencer spoke at the University of Florida. But three of his supporters were arrested on attempted-murder charges after an off-campus shooting later that day.

Authorities estimated spending US$600,000 on security costs for the Florida speech.

Spencer has popularised the term “alt-right” to refer to a fringe movement that is a mix of white nationalist, white supremacist, anti-Semitic and anti-immigration beliefs.

He helped organise the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, last August that resulted in violence and the death of a woman protesting against the white nationalist agenda.