Texas A&M calls off planned white nationalist rally

AUSTIN, Texas — Texas A&M University late Monday called off a planned white supremacist rally on its campus next month, citing concerns of a “major security risk” following the demonstrations that turned deadly over the weekend in Virginia.

The decision came amid bipartisan pressure from Texas’ Republican-controlled Legislature, where lawmakers said protecting free speech was important, but rejecting hate even more so.

A former A&M student named Preston Wiginton had been organizing a “white lives matter” rally in College Station, Texas, saying he was inspired by Saturday’s “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, when a vehicle plowed into a group of counterprotesters, killing at least one and injuring 19.

But the university said it was cancelling the event because of “concerns about the safety of its students, faculty, staff, and the public.”

“Linking the tragedy of Charlottesville with the Texas A&M event creates a major security risk on our campus,” Texas A&M said in a statement. “Additionally, the daylong event would provide disruption to our class schedules and to student, faculty and staff movement.”

Wiginton said he’d invited prominent white nationalist Richard Spencer to address the rally. Spencer spoke at an A&M event in December, when he was met by hundreds of protesters, many of whom gathered at Kyle Field football stadium to hear music and speeches highlighting diversity and unity to counter Spencer’s appearance.

Texas A&M noted that it had changed its policy after those protests so that no outside individual or group could reserve campus facilities without the sponsorship of a university-sanctioned organization. It said that “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.”

Instead, Wiginton, opted to plan next month’s event for outside at Rudder Plaza, in the middle of campus.

“Texas A&M’s support of the First Amendment and the freedom of speech cannot be questioned,” the statement said. “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.”

Word of the cancellation followed Dallas Democratic Rep. Helen Giddings giving a House floor speech Monday while nearly all of the chamber’s 150 members stood beside her. She urged university administrators to “unequivocally denounce and fight against this violent group” adding “all of us in the state of Texas want to say, with one voice, Texas will not stand for hate.”

Rep. Paul Workman, an Austin Republican, said a petition being circulated for A&M graduates in the House was attempting to “keep this from happening on our campus.” The chamber also held a moment of silence for victims killed and injured in Charlottesville.

Similar sentiments came from the Texas Senate, which held its own moment of silence.

“The First Amendment also allows us to respond in kind, to stand up and say what we believe as a society, as Americans and as Texans,” Republican Sen. Charles Schwertner, whose district includes College Station, said of protests that had been planned in response to Wiginton’s now-cancelled rally. “We should not stand for bigotry, for violence, for racism.”

Sen. Royce West, a Dallas Democrat who is black, had planned to go to the Texas A&M campus on Sept. 11, saying, “We will stand strong against those hate groups, neo-Nazis, the Ku Klux Klan.”

“My 17-year-old grandson asked me yesterday, ‘Should my generation be more like Martin Luther King or Malcom X? I had to pause and listen to the hurt in his voice and doubt in his ability to pursue the American dream,” West said. “I didn’t answer the question … That’s where we are in America today.”

Just Posted

Red Deer’s Ten Thousand Villages to close in 2018

This will be the last Christmas for Red Deer’s Ten Thousand Villages.… Continue reading

Celestial light show can be seen over Red Deer this week

Local students stay up to watch the meteor shower

Businesses to gather to talk about crime

Red Deer Downtown Business Association understands challenges

Red Deer RCMP make numerous arrests in covert stolen vehicle operation

Eight people facing 34 charges after four-day police operation last week

Watch: Man plays flaming bagpipes while riding a unicycle in a ‘Star Wars’ costume

The sight of Darth Vader, riding a unicycle and playing flaming bagpipes,… Continue reading

Dying man’s wish to see new ‘Star Wars’ movie coming true

A dying man’s wish to see the new “Star Wars” movie is… Continue reading

Bountiful polygamist believed he couldn’t be prosecuted: lawyer

Winston Blackmore’s lawyer says Blackmore did not believe he could be prosecuted

Trudeaus, Mulroneys, Erdem? Canadians who could snag a royal wedding invite

Save the date. Kensington Palace announced Friday that Prince Harry and Meghan… Continue reading

More to be done to ensure timely justice, retiring Beverley McLachlin says

Canada’s retiring top judge says more must be done to ensure the… Continue reading

Labrador mayor who was shot in face in hunting accident has died

John Hickey accidently shot himself while checking rabbit snares

Shelter dogs could go vegan in Los Angeles

Los Angeles may soon be home to a lot more vegan dogs.… Continue reading

The coolest way to serve coffee at dinner’s end

I can put together a decent dinner party. But when it comes… Continue reading

Firefighter dies, thousands more take on California blaze

One of the thousands of firefighters battling a series of wildfires across… Continue reading

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month