Student sues a Michigan university over a denied speaking permit for a white nationalist

Richard Spencer, who leads a movement that mixes racism, white nationalism and populism, raises his fist as he speaks Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2016, in College Station, Texas. Texas A&M officials say they didn't schedule the speech by Spencer, who was invited to speak by a former student who reserved campus space available to the public. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

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An out-of-state college student is suing Michigan State University in federal court over the denial of a speaking request for prominent white nationalist Richard Spencer.

Georgia State University student Cameron Padgett’s request to reserve a conference room on MSU’s campus was denied. MSU President Lou Anna Simon cited “significant concerns about public safety in the wake of the tragic violence in Charlottesville” in their application.

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Simon said that the school will “remain firm in our commitment to freedom of expression, our first obligation is to the safety and security of our students and our community.”

This is not Padgett’s first lawsuit. Earlier in the year, he sued Auburn University for similarly denying his request to rent a space for Spencer to speak.

Padgett’s attorney, Kyle Bristow, has himself been flagged by the Southern Poverty Law Center. In 2015, the State Bar of Michigan apologized for giving Bristow an honorable mention award for a story “embedded with racist cues and symbolism.” The award was also withdrawn.

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