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White Nationalist Rally At Texas A&M Has Been Canceled

Matthew Watkins
Texas Tribune
White nationalist Richard Spencer speaks while protester holds sign at Texas A&M campus in College Station on December 6, 2016.

A white nationalist rally planned on Texas A&M University's campus has been canceled, apparently out of concern for student safety, officials confirmed Monday.

The school made the decision after consulting law enforcement and "considerable study" because of "concerns about the safety of its students, faculty, staff and the public."

"Texas A&M's support of the First Amendment and the freedom of speech cannot be questioned," the university said in a statement Monday afternoon.

"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."

After the event was announced over the weekend, university and state leaders expressed strong objections, but legal experts and one A&M System regent had fretted that First Amendment protections made that impossible.

Reached by phone while shopping at Walmart on Monday afternoon, Wiginton said he had not heard the news. He said he had signed up to protest at a “free speech area” on campus on Sept. 11, but had not heard from anyone at the school since he announced. His response: “I guess my lawyers will now be suing the state of Texas.”  

The news was first announced on the floor of the Texas House. The lawmaker who made the declaration was Rep. John Raney, R-College Station, whose district includes A&M. He said that A&M System Chancellor John Sharp had canceled the event to protect student safety.

Raney said the event was axed "because of concerns with hate messages that have been on Facebook, and people who’ve said they were coming and they were bringing their weapons." He added the local police department said they "can't handle that."  

Earlier in the afternoon, lawmakers had urged university administrators – and Sharp, in particular – to prevent the event from happening.  Gov. Greg Abbottwas also involved in the discussion, an Abbott spokesman said.

“The Governor’s office has been working with Texas A&M University to prevent the type of hate-filled event that we saw in Charlottesville. Governor Abbott’s top goal is to ensure the safety and security of Texans and Texas A&M students,” said the spokesman, John Wittman.

Patrick Svitek and Morgan Smith contributed to this report.


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