White supremacist Richard Spencer filed suit against Ohio State University (OSU) on Sunday after the school refused his request to speak on campus. OSU is one of the only universities so far this year to deny Spencer. An OSU attorney said administrators made the decision after consulting with law enforcement officials and watching what happened last week during Spencer’s appearance at the University of Florida.
Earlier in the week, Gov. Rick Scott declared a state of emergency and put the National Guard on standby in case of violence. But the event remained mostly peaceful, with counterprotesters outnumbering Spencer’s supporters. The protesters eventually booed Spencer off stage.
OSU said it valued freedom of speech but could not accommodate Spencer’s speech because of “substantial risks to public safety, as well as material and substantial disruption.” University of Florida officials estimated security costs for Spencer’s event there could top $600,000.
Michigan attorney Kyle Bristow filed suit on Spencer’s behalf. He successfully sued Auburn University earlier this year, clearing the way for Spencer to speak there. He also has suits pending against Michigan State University and Pennsylvania State University.
“I guarantee that wherever I am, whatever circumstances may arise, the Alt-Right shall enjoy the right to free speech,” Bristow said Sunday. —L.J.