Texas A&M Cancels White Nationalist Rally

Texas A&M Cancels White Nationalist Rally

The rally, which headlined alt-right speaker Richard Spencer, was to take place on Sept.11.

By Lauren Camera, Education Reporter Aug. 15, 2017, at 8:06 a.m.

White nationalist Richard Spencer speaking to select media in his office space.

Texas A&M University canceled a white nationalist rally scheduled to take place on campus Sept. 11, citing safety concerns in the wake of the rally organized by alt-right groups in Charlottesville, Virginia that left one dead.

“Linking the tragedy of Charlottesville with the Texas A&M event creates a major security risk on our campus,” the school said in a statement.

The event at Texas A&M, titled “White Lives Matter,” was organized by Preston Wiginton, described by the Texas Tribune as a “Texan with deep ties to white nationalist movements,” who says he was inspired by the events in Charlottesville.

“Today Charlottesville, Tomorrow Texas A&M,” read the announcement for the event, which headlined Richard Spencer, a white supremacist and one of the founders of the alt-right movement, who previously spoke on campus in December at an event also organized by Wiginton.

The statement released by Texas A&M cites a new school policy adopted after Spencer’s visit, which sparked outrage and protests. The new rules require outside speakers to be sponsored by a university-sanctioned group to reserve campus facilities.

“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.

Violent campus protests largely against conservative speakers highlight the recent struggle colleges and universities are having walking a line between preserving free speech and acting as a space that showcases a variety of ideas, while at the same time protecting students – particularly those in demographic groups who may feel marginalized or threatened by the ideas espoused by a group or speaker.

“Texas A&M’s support of the First Amendment and the freedom of speech cannot be questioned,” the school’s statement read. “However, in this case, circumstances and information relating to the event have changed and the risks of threat to life and safety compel us to cancel the event.”


Photos: White Nationalist Rally Turns Violent


PHOTO GALLERY
CHARLOTTESVILLE, USA - AUGUST 11: Neo Nazis, Alt-Right, and White Supremacists march through the University of Virginia Campus with torches in Charlottesville, Va., USA on August 11, 2017. (Photo by Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
CHARLOTTESVILLE, USA - AUGUST 11: Neo Nazis, Alt-Right, and White Supremacists encircle and chant at counter protestors at the base of a statue of Thomas Jefferson after marching through the University of Virginia campus with torches in Charlottesville, Va., USA on August 11, 2017. (Photo by Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
A counter demonstrator uses a lighted spray can against a white nationalist demonstrator at the entrance to Lee Park in Charlottesville, Va., Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017.   Gov. Terry McAuliffe declared a state of emergency and police dressed in riot gear ordered people to disperse after chaotic violent clashes between white nationalists and counter protestors. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
Former Louisiana State Representative David Duke arrives to give remarks after a white nationalist protest was declared an unlawful assembly, Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017, in Charlottesville, Va. The nationalists were holding the rally to protest plans by the city of Charlottesville to remove a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. (Shaban Athuman /Richmond Times-Dispatch via AP)
A white nationalist demonstrator walks into Lee Park in Charlottesville, Va., Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017.  Hundreds of people chanted, threw punches, hurled water bottles and unleashed chemical sprays on each other Saturday after violence erupted at a white nationalist rally in Virginia. At least one person was arrested.  (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
State Police in riot gear guard Lee Park after a white nationalist demonstration was declared illegal and the park was cleared in Charlottesville, Va., Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017.  Hundreds of people chanted, threw punches, hurled water bottles and unleashed chemical sprays on each other Saturday after violence erupted at the white nationalist rally. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA - AUGUST 12:  White nationalists, neo-Nazis and members of the "alt-right" clash with police as they are forced out of Lee Park after the "Unite the Right" rally was declared an unlawful gathering August 12, 2017 in Charlottesville, Virginia. After clashes with anti-facist protesters and police the rally was declared an unlawful gathering and people were forced out of Lee Park, where a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee is slated to be removed.  (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
A vehicle drives into a group of protesters demonstrating against a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va., Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017. The nationalists were holding the rally to protest plans by the city of Charlottesville to remove a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. There were several hundred protesters marching in a long line when the car drove into a group of them.   /The Daily Progress via AP)
People fly into the air as a vehicle drives into a group of protesters demonstrating against a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va., Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017. The nationalists were holding the rally to protest plans by the city of Charlottesville to remove a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. There were several hundred protesters marching in a long line when the car drove into a group of them. (Ryan M. Kelly/The Daily Progress via AP)
CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA - AUGUST 12:  Rescue workers move victims on stretchers after car plowed through a crowd of counter-demonstrators marching through the downtown shopping district August 12, 2017 in Charlottesville, Virginia. The car plowed through the crowed following the shutdown of the "Unite the Right" rally by police after white nationalists, neo-Nazis and members of the "alt-right" and counter-protesters clashed near Lee Park, where a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee is slated to be removed.  (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA - AUGUST 12:  A Virginia State Police officer in riot gear keeps watch from the top of an armored vehicle after car plowed through a crowd of counter-demonstrators marching through the downtown shopping district August 12, 2017 in Charlottesville, Virginia. The car plowed through the crowed following the shutdown of the "Unite the Right" rally by police after white nationalists, neo-Nazis and members of the "alt-right" and counter-protesters clashed near Lee Park, where a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee is slated to be removed.  (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA - AUGUST 12:  A man makes a slashing motion across his throat twoard counter-protesters as he marches with other white nationalists, neo-Nazis and members of the "alt-right" during the "Unite the Right" rally August 12, 2017 in Charlottesville, Virginia. After clashes with anti-fascist protesters and police the rally was declared an unlawful gathering and people were forced out of Lee Park, where a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee is slated to be removed.  (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
White nationalist demonstrators clash with a counter demonstrator  as he throws a newspaper box at the entrance to Lee Park in Charlottesville, Va., Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017. Gov. Terry McAuliffe declared a state of emergency and police dressed in riot gear ordered people to disperse after chaotic violent clashes between white nationalists and counter protestors. (AP Photo/Steve Helber) (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA - AUGUST 12:  Rescue workers and medics tend to many people who were injured when a car plowed through a crowd of anti-facist counter-demonstrators marching through the downtown shopping district August 12, 2017 in Charlottesville, Virginia. The car plowed through the crowed following the shutdown of the "Unite the Right" rally by police after white nationalists, neo-Nazis and members of the "alt-right" and counter-protesters clashed near Lee Park, where a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee is slated to be removed.  (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
CHARLOTTESVILLE, USA - August 12: A counter protestor strikes a White Nationalist with a baton during clashes at Emancipation Park where the White Nationalists are protesting the removal of the Robert E. Lee monument in Charlottesville, Va., USA on August 12, 2017. (Photo by Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

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Aug. 11, 2017 | Charlottesville, Virginia | The night before the “Unite the Right” rally, a demonstration against the planned removal of a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee, scores of white nationalists march with lit torches through the University of Virginia campus. (SAMUEL CORUM/ANADOLU AGENCY/GETTY IMAGES)


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Lauren Camera EDUCATION REPORTER

Lauren Camera is an education reporter at U.S. News & World Report. She’s covered education policy and politics for nearly a decade and has written for Education Week, The Hechinger Report, Congressional Quarterly, Roll Call, and the Chronicle of Higher Education. She was a 2013 Spencer Education Fellow at Columbia University’s School of Journalism, where she conducted a reporting project about the impact of the Obama administration’s competitive education grant, Race to the Top.