The organizer of white nationalist Richard Spencer’s tour of the University of Cincinnati has filed a lawsuit against the school’s president for allegedly violating free speech rights.
According to the Associated Press, Cameron Padgett filed the federal lawsuit Monday, claiming that the university required an $11,000 security fee be paid in order for Spencer to speak on campus.
University President Neville Pinto is accused in the lawsuit of “de facto censorship” for demanding that Spencer’s team fund security costs. Padgett claims that “violent left-of-center political terrorists” are responsible for the security costs.
“If security costs could be passed on … by universities to event organizers who espouse politically right-of-center political ideas,” the lawsuit alleges, “then such would result in de facto censorship insofar as fewer — or no — right-of-center political events could occur on American college campuses due to the massive security costs.”
Padgett is seeking $2 million in damages.
Spencer’s appearances on college campuses across the county have proven highly controversial, sparking widespread protests that have heightened safety concerns. In 2017, the University of Florida estimated that it would spend $600,000 to secure Spencer’s event. Prior to Spencer’s appearance at the school, Florida Gov. Rick Scott, a Republican, declared a county-wide state of emergency.
Spencer, a prominent leader in the “alt-right” movement, spoke at the “Unite the Right” white nationalist rally last August in Charlottesville, Va., where one counter-protester was killed.
Spencer’s team has filed several lawsuits against universities for not allowing Spencer to speak.