Texas A&M cancels White Lives Matter rally due to safety concerns

Published: Aug. 14, 2017 at 5:16 PM CDT
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The White Lives Matter rally planned for September 11th on the Texas A&M campus has been canceled by Chancellor John Sharp due to safety concerns.

KBTX's Blakeley Galbraith just spoke with the event's organizer who said, "this obviously shows lawmakers and leaders in Texas don't care about white people."

The following news release has been issued by Texas A&M University:

After consultation with law enforcement and considerable study, Texas A&M is cancelling the event scheduled by Preston Wiginton at Rudder Plaza on campus on September 11 because of concerns about the safety of its students, faculty, staff, and the public.

Texas A&M changed its policy after December’s protests so that no outside individual or group could reserve campus facilities without the sponsorship of a university-sanctioned group. 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.

With no university facilities afforded him, he chose instead to plan his event outdoors for September 11 at Rudder Plaza, in the middle of campus, during a school day, with a notification to the media under the headline “Today Charlottesville, Tomorrow Texas A&M.”

Linking the tragedy of Charlottesville with the Texas A&M event creates a major security risk on our campus. Additionally, the daylong event would provide disruption to our class schedules and to student, faculty and staff movement (both bus system and pedestrian).

Texas A&M’s support of the First Amendment and the freedom of speech cannot be questioned. On December 6, 2016 the university and law enforcement allowed the same speaker the opportunity to share his views, taking all of the necessary precautions to ensure a peaceful event. 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.

Finally, the thoughts and prayers of Aggies here on campus and around the world are with those individuals affected by the tragedy in Charlottesville.

Texas A&M students were planning a counter-event for September 11th. Organizers for BTHOHate sent this statement:

"We applaud the decision by the university to cancel the "White Lives Matter" rally. Preston Wiginton claims that the university did so because they do not care about white people. In truth, the university cares about the safety of every student. It is clear that the event posed a danger to the student body and Texas A&M did the right thing to protect its students. We would like to thank every person that signed up, donated, and volunteered. Even though we weren't needed, it shows a great deal of character on the part of our Aggie community that so many were willing."

Reaction from Congressman Bill Flores:

“Racism, bigotry and violence have no place in America. We as a nation must stand united as a nation of laws. I am confident that our community can once again peacefully come together to counter hatred and division by exemplifying unity and the core values we cherish.”

Statement from organizers of the Texas A&M BTHOHate event:

Following the cancellation of the “White Lives Matter” rally by Chancellor Sharp, the organizers of the BTHOHate protest plan to turn their event from a protest to a rally promoting diversity and inclusion in their university environment.

“We applaud the university’s decision to cancel the event for the safety of all involved,” Adam Key, event organizer said. “At the same time, we are touched by the support and dedication of the members of the Aggie community and beyond. We plan to keep that momentum going by holding our own event.”

The organizers have contacted the university with a request to reserve Rudder Plaza, the same space Wiginton’s rally was to be held. The event will keep the same name, BTHOHate, but now serve the cause of combating hatred that affects students in their everyday lives.

“This space that white supremacists intended to use to promote hate will now be used to promote love of our fellow human beings,” Key said.

Plans are currently being made for the event, but the organizers plan to invite speakers from diverse and underrepresented backgrounds to speak. In addition, the group plans on engaging in fundraising drives for both local causes including the Brazos Interfaith Immigration Network and the Brazos Valley African American Museum Scholarship Fund along with assisting the victims of the Charlottesville attack.

“We saw the Aggie Spirit in full force in preparation for the protest,” organizer Michael Buse said. “The job is far from over and Aggies are far from done.”

The organizers hope this event can serve as a turning point for their campus, a first step in making it a more inclusive space for all races, sexes, gender identities, religions, and sexual orientations.

“We were prepared to fight Nazis,” Key said. “Fighting the reason they chose to keep coming to our campus will be much more difficult, but it’s a task worth doing.”

Response today from Rep. John Raney, prior to the announcement that the event was canceled:

"As an Aggie and a community member, I am saddened by the usage of our university as a platform to spread hatred. While I respect freedom of speech, assemblies of this abhorrent nature do not represent the values of Texas A&M - the values every Aggie holds sacred: Excellence, Integrity, Leadership, Loyalty, Respect, Selfless Service. I support the counter rally and urge all Aggies and citizens of Bryan/College Station to unite in showing this group that they are not welcome in our community."

Statement from Sen. Charles Schwertner on Sunday after learning of the planned 9/11 rally on the campus:

"It has come to my attention that the same white nationalist groups responsible for the recent tragedy in Charlottesville are planning to host a similar hate rally on the campus of Texas A&M University next month. The racist and bigoted hate speech promoted by these groups does not reflect the values of Texas A&M University or the people of Texas and it should be loudly and consistently condemned by all responsible voices of our society.

"While the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects the right of these groups to assemble and espouse their hateful and narrow-minded worldview, it also protects my right to publicly speak out against it…and that’s exactly what I plan to do when these groups come to College Station next month."