White nationalist Richard Spencer talks with reporters during the first day of the Conservative Political Action Conference at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center on Feb. 23, 2017 in National Harbor, Maryland.
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
By Katie Reilly
Updated: April 19, 2017 4:37 PM ET

Three people were arrested Tuesday as opponents and supporters of Richard Spencer clashed at Alabama’s Auburn University over the alt-right leader’s visit to the campus, despite the school’s attempt to cancel the event.

The three men were arrested on charges of disorderly conduct outside the event Tuesday night, according to arrest reports. Auburn police spokesperson Capt. Lorenza Dorsey said none of those arrested were Auburn students, and he said it’s not clear whether they were protesters or supporters of Spencer.

During his speech, Spencer criticized diversity as a “way of bringing to an end a nation and a culture that is defined by white people,” according to CNN.

Auburn University had tried to cancel the speech due to safety concerns, but a federal judge ruled against the university, after the person who rented the auditorium for the event filed a lawsuit.

The university urged peaceful protests following that decision.

“It is now more important than ever that we respond in a way that is peaceful, respectful, and maintains civil discourse,” Provost Timothy Boosinger said in a statement.

Spencer also sparked protests when he spoke at Texas A&M University last year.

And he’s not the only controversial speaker to be the subject of protests when making university visits.

At the University of California at Berkeley, violent riots broke out in February and forced the cancellation of an event where right-wing pundit Milo Yiannopoulos was scheduled to speak, while Conservative writer Charles Murray was shouted down and physically confronted by protesters at Middlebury College in Vermont last month.

Correction: The original version of this story incorrectly characterized the three people arrested as protesters. Authorities have not confirmed whether those arrested were supporting or opposing Richard Spencer.

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