White supremacist Richard Spencer isn't welcome on LSU's campus following violent clashes in Charlottesville, Virginia, over the weekend.
“We will take the necessary precautions to ensure that our campus is safe from violence, that our students and faculty are safe from people trying to stir up troubles,” LSU President F. King Alexander told The Advocate.
Spencer’s people have been making calls to LSU officials trying to arrange a visit to Baton Rouge, Alexander said.
“He’s not welcome,” he said.
LSU's rejection follows similar decisions on campuses across the country, including Texas A&M and the University of Florida, which have both canceled his campus speaking events in recent days.
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Spencer is president of the National Policy Institute, a white nationalist group based in Virginia. The group defines itself as being "dedicated to the heritage, identity, and future of people of European descent in the United States, and around the world." Calls to the group were not returned.
Spencer attended a demonstration at the University of Virginia, where torch-bearing protesters rallied against Charlottesville’s decision to remove a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee from a local park. The event set off clashes that culminated with a self-identified white supremacist driving into a group of protesters demonstrating against the “Unite the Right” rally on Saturday. The driver, James Alex Fields Jr., of Ohio, has been charged with second-degree murder and other counts after Heather Heyer, 32, was killed and 19 others were injured.
Alexander said he’s worried about the tone and divisiveness of Spencer’s rhetoric. "He has sparked violence elsewhere," Alexander said, standing not far from LSU's Free Speech Alley, where in the early 1970s David Duke, a white nationalist who represented parts of Metairie three decades ago, would give racially inflammatory speeches.
LSU's campus is dotted with reminders of the Confederacy, with residence halls bearing the names of Confederate Army generals PGT Beauregard and Kirby Smith, and a prominent street named for Confederate naval officer Raphael Semmes.
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Other Southeastern Conference schools also have been trying to keep Spencer off their campuses.
The University of Florida, where Spencer was scheduled to speak Sept. 10th, refused Wednesday to rent his group space, also citing security concerns. Spencer's organization on Thursday threatened to file a lawsuit against Florida.
"This decision was made after assessing potential risks with campus, community, state and federal law enforcement officials following violent clashes in Charlottesville, Va., and continued calls online and in social media for similar violence in Gainesville such as those decreeing: "The Next Battlefield is in Florida," University of Florida President W. Kent Fuchs said on Facebook.
Fuchs' decision came after Texas A&M canceled a Spencer speech planned for Sept. 11th. The university said in a statement that none of the 1,200-plus campus organizations had invited the sponsors to put together an event in College Station.
Meanwhile, Michigan State University announced Thursday that its officials also have denied a request by Spencer’s National Policy Institute to rent space on the East Lansing Campus.
Violence broke out in April, leading to arrests, when Spencer spoke at Auburn University’s Foy Hall.