White Nationalist Rally At Texas A&M Now Canceled
One day after it was announced a White Lives Matter rally would be held at Texas A&M on September 11 headlined by Richard Spencer, the university announced the rally has been canceled. A group led by former A&M student Preston Wiginton announced on Saturday that the rally would be held on the A&M campus and according to the Houston Chronicle, connected the rally to the rally held in Charlottesville, VA.
Preston Wiginton, a former Texas A&M student, had announced on Saturday that he would host a White Lives Matter event in College Station on Sept. 11. He planned to host a White Lives Matter representative from Houston and Richard Spencer, a white nationalist who espoused racist views on that campus in December.
Wiginton associated the rally with a"Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville in a press release on Saturday, the day one person died protesting that rally near the University of Virginia's campus.
A spokesperson for Texas A&M cited safety concerns as the reason why the rally was cancelled according to the Houston Chronicle. Richard Spencer, who had been scheduled to speak at A&M was also involved and supportive of this past weekend's protest in Charlottesville, VA. In response to the rally that was to be held at Texas A&M, students had pledge to form a "maroon wall" to keep the white nationalists off campus.
The Houston Chronicle also reported that Wiginton may pursue legal action against the State of Texas.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott had been in talks with A&M about security for the event.
Below is Texas A&M's press release on the rally's cancellation.
After consultation with law enforcement and considerable study, Texas A&M is cancelling the event scheduled by Preston Wiginton at Rudder Plaza on campus on September 11 because of concerns about the safety of its students, faculty, staff, and the public.
Texas A&M changed its policy after December’s protests so that no outside individual or group could reserve campus facilities without the sponsorship of a university-sanctioned group. None of the 1200-plus campus organizations invited Preston Wiginton nor did they agree to sponsor his events in December 2016 or on September 11 of this year. With no university facilities afforded him, he chose instead to plan his event outdoors for September 11 at Rudder Plaza, in the middle of campus, during a school day, with a notification to the media under the headline “Today Charlottesville, Tomorrow Texas A&M.”
Linking the tragedy of Charlottesville with the Texas A&M event creates a major security risk on our campus. Additionally, the daylong event would provide disruption to our class schedules and to student, faculty and staff movement (both bus system and pedestrian).
Texas A&M’s support of the First Amendment and the freedom of speech cannot be questioned. On December 6, 2016 the university and law enforcement allowed the same speaker the opportunity to share his views, taking all of the necessary precautions to ensure a peaceful event. 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.
Finally, the thoughts and prayers of Aggies here on campus and around the world are with those individuals affected by the tragedy in Charlottesville.