Texas A&M has canceled a white nationalist protest planned in September, citing safety concerns.
White nationalists, neo-Nazis and other extremist groups had planned to hold a “white lives matter” rally at Texas A&M on September 11.
The school canceled the rally Monday evening “because of concerns about the safety of its students, faculty, staff, and the public.”
Richard Spencer, the white supremacist who helped found the so-called alt-right movement, was set to speak at the event, according to the Battalion, Texas A&M’s student newspaper.
The Battalion reports the organizer for the Texas event, Preston Wiginton, was inspired by the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. That protest drew a large number of counterprotesters and turned violent. One woman was killed and dozens injured when police say a man with views sympathetic to neo-Nazis deliberately drove his car into a crowd.
Unwelcome at school
Spencer spoke at Texas A&M in December, sparking outrage and protests on campus. The school eventually changed its campus speaker policy because of the controversy over his appearance. The new rules required outside groups or individuals to have sponsorship from a university-sanctioned group to reserve campus facilities.
The university cited that policy change in canceling the upcoming event.
“None of the 1,200-plus campus organizations invited Preston Wiginton nor did they agree to sponsor his events in December 2016 or on September 11 of this year,” the school said in a statement.
Wiginton had planned to hold his event in Rudder Plaza — an outdoor space in the middle of campus.
“Linking the tragedy of Charlottesville with the Texas A&M event creates a major security risk on our campus,” the statement said.
During his December appearance, Spencer delivered his message of white supremacy for roughly two hours to a room of 400 people, the vast majority of whom were there in protest.
“At the end of the day, America belongs to white men,” he said at the time.
Blocking the view
Students had been “planning a number of various [counter-] protests,” Josh McCormack, editor in chief of the Battalion, told CNN. “The most popular protests seems to be a recreation of the ‘maroon wall.'”
The maroon wall is essentially a human chain, McCormack said. In July 2012, members of the controversial Westboro Baptist Church came to the area to protest a soldier’s funeral at a local church. When they showed up, they were greeted by hundreds of students who linked together to block their view.