Controversial white nationalist and “alt-right” figure Richard Spencer says he’s asked a court in Alabama to ensure he’s allowed to speak at Auburn University as planned Tuesday after his scheduled appearance was canceled by the school over safety concerns.
A motion was filed Monday in Montgomery County in an effort to ensure Auburn can’t stop Mr. Spencer from speaking on campus Tuesday, he told the school newspaper afterwards.
“An injunction has been filed,” Mr. Spencer told The Plainsman. “We feel the law is on our side. I think it’s very clear. The Supreme Court has been unequivocal in terms of supporting people in situations like ours.”
Mr. Spencer, the president of the National Policy Institute, a white nationalist think tank, announced Wednesday that he’d be speaking at Auburn on April 18. College administrators pulled the plug on the planned speaking engagement two days later, however, as campus-wide outrage spurred concerns over his scheduled appearance, including the possibility for the event to trigger “civil unrest and criminal activity,” according to Auburn.
Mr. Spencer, 38, achieved notoriety last year in tandem with the rise of the so-called “alt-right,” a far-right ideology he’s widely credited with having coined. His speeches have generated comparisons to those of Nazi leader Adolf Hitler, as well as condemnation from the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League, among other civil rights watchdogs.
“If Auburn University thinks that I am going to back down because they cancelled on me, that I’m just going to simply, politely go away, then they don’t understand me at all,” Mr. Spencer said in a video uploaded to YouTube afterwards. “They should have done their research.”
The Plainsman could not confirm if an injunction was filed as claimed, and Mr. Spencer did not immediately respond to requests for comment Tuesday from The Washington Times.
According to campus administrators, Auburn is prepared either way.
“Auburn canceled the Spencer event out of legitimate and specific concerns for campus safety,” Auburn spokesman Mike Clardy told AL.com Tuesday. “If he comes to campus anyway, we will handle consistent with existing policies and practices and plan for possible contingencies in consultation with law enforcement.”
Mr. Spencer previously said he had planned to discuss President Trump, the alt-right and the current conflict in Syria at Tuesday’s speaking engagement, among other topics. In the aftermath of Auburn’s decision to cancel, however, he accused the school of stifling his freedom of speech and indicated the First Amendment will be a major topic of discussion if his makes it onto campus as planned.
“The fact is, this situation is now much bigger than I am,” Mr. Spencer said in the YouTube video. “This isn’t just about Richard Spencer. This isn’t just about the alt-right and some cowardly and naive bureaucrats in Auburn University. This is about whether we have free speech in this country or whether we don’t.”
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