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Backer Of White Supremacist Richard Spencer Sues University of Cincinnati

Richard Spencer speaking in November, 2016.
Wikimedia Commons
Richard Spencer speaking in November, 2016.

Updated 12:10 p.m.

A white supremacist is suing the University of Cincinnati for what he says are excessive security costs for a planned appearance by Richard Spencer. The lawsuit filed in federal court alleges UC is charging too much for security measures surrounding a speech set for March 14. The complaint calls this a free speech violation and requests a judgment of $2 million and a jury trial.

According to the lawsuit, UC told Spencer's team the total cost would be $11,333; $500 for the room rental and $10,833 for "security costs and fees." The document calls UC's criteria for calculating the fee "facially unconstitutional."

In a statement, UC stands by its security fee.

"Spencer was not invited or sponsored by any member of the university community, and like other non-sponsored speakers, he must pay a fee to rent university space. This includes a security fee," says spokesman Greg Vehr. "The fee assessed is a mere fraction of the costs we anticipate incurring as a result of this event, but we hold firm in our efforts to respect the principles of free speech while maintaining safety on campus."

Vehr adds UC will respond to the complaint in a legal filing.

The University of Florida spent roughly $600,000 on security for Spencer's visit in October. The lawsuit argues those fees should not be passed on to speakers because that would constitute censorship.

UC agreed in October to allow Spencer to appear on campus after he threatened to sue the university. The sides later settled on the March 14 date. It falls in the middle of UC's spring break.

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Tana Weingartner earned a bachelor's degree in communication from the University of Cincinnati and a master's degree in mass communication from Miami University. Most recently, she served as news and public affairs producer with WMUB-FM. Ms. Weingartner has earned numerous awards for her reporting, including several Best Reporter awards from the Associated Press and the Ohio Society of Professional Journalists, and a regional Murrow Award. She served on the Ohio Associated Press Broadcasters Board of Directors from 2007 - 2009.