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White supremacist Richard Spencer to speak at MSU

Spencer granted two of hours of speaking time on MSU's campus



UPDATE: View the settlement agreement here. MSU is responsible for $27,400 in legal fees to be paid to Bristow's law firm. THURSDAY, Jan. 18 – White supremacist Richard Spencer has been granted two hours of speaking time on Michigan State University’s campus. His appearance is slated for March 5, the first day of MSU’s spring break, at the Pavilion for Agriculture and Livestock Education.

According to the Detroit Free Press, the two parties’ lawyers reached an out of court settlement. MSU will be responsible for providing police and security, while Spencer provides insurance and a $1,650 rental fee.

The university denied the white nationalist’s initial August request and were swiftly hit by a lawsuit by Spencer proponent Kyle Bristow's attorney, Cameron Padgett.

Nearly every campus Spencer's requested to speak at has denied him, citing safety concerns, only to have that denial rescinded by pending legal action. Legal pressure from supporters like Bristow has provided a pipeline for Spencer’s campus appearances at universities such as Auburn and Florida.

Bristow also has a noted history of racial extremism. His student group during his time at MSU, Young Americans for Freedom, was classified by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a hate group.

Spencer’s October appearance in Florida devolved into a shouting match between him and protesters, who far outnumbered attendees there for Spencer.

MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon released the following statement:

"Last fall, a white nationalist group sought to hold an event at MSU shortly after tragic violence at a rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. We declined to allow the event at that time, not because of their hateful views, but because public safety is our first obligation. Michigan State is wholly dedicated to freedom of speech, not just as a public institution, but as an institution of higher education. Here, ideas — not people — are meant to clash and to be evaluated based on their merits. As I noted in a long-standing statement on freedom of speech, 'Without this freedom, effective sifting and testing of ideas cease, and research, teaching and learning are stifled.'

So this week, MSU agreed to allow the group to hold an event, during spring break, at the MSU Pavilion for Agriculture and Livestock Education March 5, from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. This agreement was based on the university’s requirement that the event occur on a date and at a venue that minimizes the risk of violence or disruption to campus. The security of our campus community remains our top priority and all appropriate security measures will be taken in connection with the event. Michigan State rejects this group’s divisive and racist messages and remains committed to maintaining a diverse campus and supporting an inclusive, just and democratic society."

This story will be updated as it develops.


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