Ohio State University is being sued after again denying a prominent white supremacist’s request to speak on campus
An attorney for Richard Spencer filed a lawsuit in federal court on Sunday, the Associated Press reports. The lawsuit was filed after Ohio State announced late Friday it was denying Spencer’s request a second time.
An Ohio State’s lawyer reiterated the reasons for the university’s original denial in a letter to an attorney representing Cameron Padgett, the organizer of Spencer’s college speaking tour. Spencer is president of the white supremacist think tank the National Policy Institute and is known as one of the organizers of August’s “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville that descended into violence.
In the letter to Spencer’s attorney, Ohio State’s lawyer justified the denial in part because of the events that unfolded at the University of Florida, where Spencer spoke last week. Florida’s governor declared a state of emergency because of Spencer’s visit and protesters clashed with Spencer’s supporters on campus.
“The university values freedom of speech. Nonetheless, the university has determined that it is not presently able to accommodate Mr. Padgett’s request to rent space at the university due to substantial risk to public safety,” wrote Columbus attorney Michael Carpenter in a letter to Kyle Bristow, a lawyer for Spencer.
Carpenter asked Bristow and Padgett to direct any future communications to him rather than to Ohio State officials directly. Bristow recently threatened to file a lawsuit against both OSU and the University of Cincinnati if the state institutions would not allow Spencer to speak on campus.
Spencer has been denied requests for space to speak at Penn State University, the University of Florida and at Michigan State University. After Michigan State denied Spencer’s speaking request, his event organizer filed a lawsuit against the school in United States District Court.
UC took a different approach than Ohio State. UC president Neville Pinto announced in a campus-wide email earlier this month that the university would allow Spencer to speak on campus.
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