White nationalists impose deadline for approval on campus speeches

ALEXANDRIA, VA - AUGUST 14: White nationalist Richard Spencer speaks to select media in his office space on August 14, 2017 in Alexandria, Virginia.

COLUMBUS (WCMH) — An attorney for associates of white nationalist leader Richard Spencer says he’ll sue Ohio State University and the University of Cincinnati if they don’t agree by Friday to make campus space available for him to speak.

A Georgia college student contacted both schools recently about renting space in the latest effort to have Spencer speak on college campuses.

Student Cameron Padgett asked University of Cincinnati to provide an auditorium for Spencer to speak later this month. A UC spokesman said last week the school was assessing safety and logistical considerations.

Padgett made a second request to Ohio State after the first was denied last month. An OSU spokesman also said safety considerations were being assessed.

Padgett’s attorney, Kyle Bristow said the University’s review of the request is discriminatory in and of itself. “I imagine similar reviews are not required of politically left-wing events on campus,” Bristow wrote in an email to OSU.

Spencer organized a white nationalist rally in August that led to deadly violence in Charlottesville, Virginia.

But Bristow said the universities can’t discriminate against Spencer simply because others find the speech offensive.

“All people have a right to freely express their views and no one has the right to engage in a so-called “heckler’s veto” to shut down the marketplace of ideas,” Bristow told NBC4.

Ohio State University sophomore Jeremy Campbell said it’s a difficult issue. “While I disagree with everything Mr. Spencer stands for I do believe in the First Amendment strongly and as a public university we should grant him some kind of medium to speak,” Campbell said.

Bristow said Spencer and his associates do not advocate for violence. “They come in peace. They simply want to share their ideas with the public.”

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