White nationalist threatens to sue Kent State


 In this Dec. 6, 2016 file photo, Richard Spencer speaks at the Texas A&M University campus in College Station, Texas. Twitter has restored Spencer’s personal account less than a month after the social media company suspended it along with other accounts belonging to prominent members of the so-called “alt-right” movement. The company told Spencer that it suspended five of his accounts on Nov. 15 for violating a rule against creating multiple accounts with overlapping uses. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Ben Orner

Cameron Padgett, the booker for white nationalist Richard Spencer’s college tour, is threatening to sue Kent State University, according to a document from Padgett’s lawyer, Kyle Bristow, emailed to the university Friday.

Two weeks ago, Padgett requested use of the Student Multicultural Center on May 4 to hold a speaking event with Spencer and fellow white nationalist Mike Peinovich in order to talk about their alt-right political views, the left-wing group Antifa and the 1970 Kent State shooting.

This year would mark the 48th anniversary of May 4, when members of the National Guard opened fire on a crowd of demonstrators. They killed four and wounded nine others. 

Kent State responded to Padgett and said they were “unable to accommodate” his request because university policy states outside speakers “must be sponsored by a registered student organization or university department.”

The letter, titled, “Cameron Padgett v. Beverly J. Warren,” claims the policy is unconstitutional.

An exception to the policy is “social or athletic exhibitions or events,” which the letter claims is also unconstitutional because it establishes a “prerequisite of having a registered student organization sponsor events for some forms of speech, but not others.”

The letter argues this “content-based discrimination … cannot occur in a limited public forum which KSU has created by permitting its Student Multicultural Center to be rented by the public.”

It claims the policy “is clearly designed to suppress controversial political speech.”

The letter also said Bristow believes Kent State denied Padgett’s request because “political opponents of Mr. Padgett became aware of the same and made a fuss about it.” Spencer told KentWired he believes the university denied the request because it is afraid of violent protests by Antifa.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, a well-known U.S. civil rights group, considers Bristow a white nationalist.

Bristow has a history of suing universities when they denied Padgett or Spencer to speak on campus. He has filed federal lawsuits against universities like Ohio State, Penn State and Michigan State, arguing the universities violated the First Amendment. Most recently, Michigan State settled its lawsuit on Jan. 18 and will allow Spencer to speak in a campus auditorium during its spring break on March 5.

Bristow’s letter said Kent State has until Feb. 9 at 5 p.m. to let Padgett rent the Student Multicultural Center or the suit will be filed in federal court.

“If KSU will not permit my client to rent a room on its campus,” Bristow’s letter reads, “I imagine a federal judge who is educated in the law and who has sworn to defend the Constitution of the United States will.”

Ben Orner is the enterprise producer. Contact him at [email protected].