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White Nationalist Richard Spencer Will Speak at Texas A&M

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Updated: | Originally published: ;

Richard Spencer, the white nationalist and prominent figure of the so-called “alt-right” movement, will speak at Texas A&M University in December, despite protests against the event.

Spencer made recent headlines after video earlier in November was released showing him quoting Nazi propaganda in German during a highly anti-Semitic speech and shouting “Heil Trump!” at a controversial white nationalist conference held in Washington D.C. to celebrate Donald Trump winning the election. Video footage showed audience members raising a Nazi salute at the end of his speech. The”alt-right” movement generally favors racist and white supremacist beliefs.

Preston Wiginton, a former student who said he was “sympathetic to nationalists,” invited Spencer to speak at Texas A&M because he has been in the news so much in light of the election, the Guardian reported. A spokeswoman for the school said Wigginton rented a room there as a private citizen, and that the university denounces Spencer’s rhetoric.

Wiginton said he had invited Spencer to speak at the university before the white nationalist conference, but had not considered rescinding the invite. Spencer is scheduled to speak on Dec. 6.

“At American universities the education is so left-leaning that it’s more of an indoctrination than a discussion of ideas,” Wiginton told the Guardian. “I’ve brought other controversial speakers to A&M on topics that people don’t want to discuss. Things such as immigration. So I just thought it was an opportunity.”

Nearly 10,000 people have signed a petition urging the university to denounce Spencer and cancel the event. University spokeswoman Amy Smith told the Guardian the event would continue as planned because of free speech laws, but that the school would review its booking policies.

Texas A&M has planned an alternative “inclusive” event for the same day as Spencer’s speech.

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Write to Mahita Gajanan at mahita.gajanan@time.com