White nationalist Richard Spencer to drop Ohio State lawsuit
CINCINNATI— A new attorney for white nationalist Richard Spencer’s campus tour efforts said Tuesday he plans to drop a lawsuit against Ohio State University but that a lawsuit will continue against the University of Cincinnati.
Spencer spoke Monday amid protests at Michigan State University, but the rest of his campus tour plans have bogged down because of lawsuits and disagreements on safety issues.
James Kolenich, of suburban Cincinnati, recently became lead counsel in the two cases after Michigan attorney Kyle Bristow abruptly withdrew after waging lawsuits against a series of U.S. schools for months.
Bristow, who said he had been unfairly vilified in media reports, sued Ohio State on behalf of tour organizer Cameron Padgett after the school last year refused to book Spencer.
Kolenich said Padgett decided to drop the Ohio State case, but they will pursue the Cincinnati case that is over a security fee.
“I expect to be victorious there,” he told The Associated Press, saying there had been settlement discussions.
A UC spokesman didn’t respond immediately for comment and an OSU spokesman didn’t have an immediate comment Tuesday.
Spencer advocates a white “ethno-state” and espouses anti-Semitic and anti-immigrant beliefs.
The University of Cincinnati last October agreed to allow Spencer to speak, with its board of trustees publicly condemning hate while citing the fundamental right to free speech at a public university.
But Bristow sued in January after the school demanded a nearly $11,000 security fee, which it later said was a “mere fraction” of its expected costs. The case is pending before a federal judge.
Ohio State had countered the lawsuit by pointing to deadly violence in the Charlottesville, Virginia, rally last August in which Spencer was a scheduled speaker, and his raucous October appearance at the University of Florida, where authorities estimated security costs at $600,000.
“The University determined that such an event could not be accommodated at Ohio State at this time without substantial risk to public safety and material and substantial disruption to the work and discipline of the University,” Ohio State had stated in its response to Padgett’s lawsuit.
Police said at least a dozen people were arrested Monday in East Lansing. Michigan State allowed Spencer to appear to settle a lawsuit, but the venue was an auditorium at a remote end of campus.
Students were on spring break, but hundreds of protesters turned out, shouting profanities at Spencer supporters and police. Officers formed lines outside the auditorium and wore helmets and clutched batons.
The Cincinnati Enquirer reported recently that Kolenich is representing organizers of the “United the Right” rally in Charlottesville who face federal charges, saying he was willing to get involved “to oppose Jewish influence in society.”