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Richard Spencer attorney gives U-M ultimatum, threatens lawsuit

December 8, 2017

A representative for white nationalist Richard Spencer gave the University of Michigan an ultimatum Thursday: If U-M does not schedule Spencer to speak on campus by Jan. 15, he will sue the university in federal court. 

Kyle Bristow, the attorney hired by Spencer’s college tour organizer Cameron Padgett, announced the demand via press release. 

Spencer is the leader of the far-right National Policy Institute. He is a white nationalist who originally coined the term “Alt-Right” and has advocated for “peaceful ethnic cleansing.” 

“Either select a date by January 15, 2018—Martin Luther King Jr. Day—at 5 p.m., or else be sued in federal court,” according to the release. “There will be no further extensions of my client’s demand to be permitted to exercise his constitutional right to free speech.”

The U-M Board of Regents met in November and confirmed they had opened discussions with Spencer’s representatives to decide whether or not he would be allowed to rent speaking space on campus. According to Bristow’s release, Dec. 8 was set as the deadline for U-M to choose a speaking room for Spencer.

Bristow is currently suing MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon after the MSU administration denied Padgett’s request to rent a room for Spencer speak on campus in August. 

MSU cited “significant concerns about public safety” in its original statement when it denied Spencer’s request. The request came just days after violence at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, during which one counter-protester was killed. 

Bristow’s press release mentioned other suits filed against Ohio State University, Penn State University and Auburn University. The suits against OSU and PSU are ongoing, whereas Auburn University was required by a federal judge to host Spencer in April after it had originally denied his request. 


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