Groups urging people not to attend white nationalist speech

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EAST LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - Groups are already speaking out against white nationalist Richard Spencer and his event being held Monday in East Lansing.

Months ago, Michigan State University received a request to rent out a campus venue to Richard B. Spencer. After some legal wrangling, that effort succeeded.

He is speaking at an unconventional location, he'll be at the Pavilion for Agriculture and Livestock Education.

Former MSU President, Lou Anna K. Simon, addressed the selection of the livestock pavilion and the timing of his speech in a January 18 statement: "This agreement was based on the university's requirement that the event occur on a date and at a venue that minimizes the risk of violence or disruption to campus."

Happening at noon on Monday a group is hosting a "Stop Spencer at MSU" march. The group says it is holding the rally against fascism and to let Spencer and members of the Alt-Right know that they are not welcome in East Lansing. If you want to take part in this rally, they are meeting at noon in Commuter Lot 89 at the corner of Farm Lane and Mt. Hope in East Lansing.

The Ingham Co. prosecutor released a statement saying, "Stand up to hate, be safe, stay away." Carol Siemon said "hate groups thrive on the free publicity they receive from confrontations. They encourage violence against others - in practice as well as in theory. The terrible lesson of Charlottesville is when it comes to hate, these groups practice what they preach. Heather Heyer was killed in Charlottesville by an extremist demonstrator. Her murder was one of many acts of violence committed on that terrible day. The violence of Charlottesville showed that just as in the darkest days of American history, hate groups terrorize the public through acts of violence. I encourage our residents to learn from that tragedy and stay away from the hate demonstration on campus."

Siemon inlcuded in her statement a suggestion for those that want to make a difference today to attend the Celebration of Diversity Festival" hosted by All Saints Church.

The festival takes place at 800 Abbot Road in East Lansing. The festival claims that it will be a safe place and secure environment where members of the community can support diversity and stand up to hate groups, in the company of friends and neighbors.

The NAACP has also issued a statement about Spencer speaking at Michigan State, discouraging people to attend the event. They wrote, "Richard Spencer has called for "ethnic cleansing" and spews nothing but hatred at all of the events he speaks at. When Richard Spencer and his followers went to Charlottesville, Virginia, there were hundreds of angry white supremacist who marched around the University of Virginia carrying tiki torches chanting hateful messages. During this rally there was violence between the Spencer's supporters and counter protesters, where dozens were injured and one counter protester was killed." They believe that by allowing Spencer to speak on campus will do nothing but create a larger racial divide in East Lansing and at Michigan State.

"This is a failure of our justice system, we have had a long past of racism in our country, and this is only allowing it to continue," said Kyra Mitchell, Michigan State Conference NAACP Youth & College Division College Division Vice President. "Racism and hatred needs to be stopped, it can no longer be tolerated in America. How much longer are we going to allow bigots to win?"

They are urging the public to not attend the speech at MSU.

On Tuesday, MSU Interim President John Engler asked students not to protest at the event. He said protests and attention is exactly what Spencer wants.

Engler wants to avoid a potentially violent situation like the one in Charlottesville over the summer. MSU initially denied Spencer's request to rent space on campus, but Spencer sued for violating his free speech rights -- and won.

Instead of protesting, Engler is urging students to attend other events scheduled that night, like the diversity festival.

Ingham Co. has also closed roads in East Lansing on Monday. Several roads are closed on the MSU campus - Forest and Farm Lane, Forest and Pavillion, Forest and Beaumont and Farm Lane and Pavillion.