Alt-right targeting colleges, experts say. Is Georgia prepared?


In March the Georgia Board of Regents adopted a system-wide “freedom of expression” policy limiting outside speakers and large demonstrations to specifically designated campus areas as a way of handling protests.

But it’s unclear if that policy would provide any protection against the type of speech that roiled the Auburn University campus Tuesday when white supremacist Richard Spencer spoke in a rented campus auditorium.

Spencer, who became known nationally for coining the term “alt-right” to describe his mix of racial and populist conservatism, spoke before a crowd of at least 430 in Auburn’s Foy Hall, which included supporters, critics and reporters. Outside hundreds of counter-protesters demonstrated against him.

Late last week, Auburn administrators sought to block Spencer from speaking, claiming the event presented a danger to the campus. But a federal judge overruled the university on free speech grounds, allowing the event to go forward.

Experts who monitor racists and other extremist groups say the alt-right is targeting universities. Lecia Brooks, outreach director for the Alabama-based Southern Poverty Law Center, said Auburn officials erred by trying to cancel the event. First, it flies in opposition to established First Amendment rights. Second, it handed Spencer a talking point.

“Richard Spencer will use this event at Auburn to catapult himself to events at other universities,” she said.

Is Georgia prepared for the campus recruiting efforts of white supremacists? Read more in this week’s AJC Watchdog column here.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Local

Georgia governor’s aide warns GOP candidates not to ruin bid for Amazon
Georgia governor’s aide warns GOP candidates not to ruin bid for Amazon

Former Mayor Shirley Franklin and Chris Riley, the top aide to Gov. Nathan Deal, at the AJC’s Politically Georgia event. AJC/Rebecca Breyer. Gov. Nathan Deal’s top aide urged the candidates in the crowded gubernatorial field to strike a cautious note next year with “religious liberty” proposals and...
3 children, 3 adults hurt in multi-vehicle wreck on I-85
3 children, 3 adults hurt in multi-vehicle wreck on I-85

Lanes on I-85 South have reopened after a three-vehicle crash that left three children and three adults injured, officials said. The crash happened Monday evening on I-85 South at the ramp for I-75 North, Atlanta Fire spokesman Cortez Stafford said. The Georgia State Patrol said later the children, ages 13, 9 and 8, were taken to Children’s Healthcare...
Georgia girl invited to White House after writing President Trump
Georgia girl invited to White House after writing President Trump

When Mackenzie Koger’s mother said a letter to a congressman might be a good way to ask for a White House tour, the second-grader picked up her pencil. But the Dalton resident didn’t write her local representative. She addressed her letter, “Dear President (Donald) Trump,” the Dalton Daily Citizen reported.  That...
Driver on leave while police investigate fight on school bus  
Driver on leave while police investigate fight on school bus  

Police and Marietta school officials are investigating a bus driver’s actions after a fight broke out on her route, Channel 2 Action News reported Monday.  The veteran driver, whose name was not released, is on paid administrative leave while officials investigate how she broke up the fight, Channel 2 reported.  No cameras were on the...
After entering plea while drunk, Duluth man again pleads guilty to defrauding Staples
After entering plea while drunk, Duluth man again pleads guilty to defrauding Staples

A Duluth man has pleaded guilty for his role in a scheme to defraud Massachusetts-based Staples Inc. of more than $1.4 million, federal officials said. Layne Michael Gosnell, 46, appeared in federal court in Boston on Friday in connection with the charge of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and mail fraud, the United States Department of Justice...
More Stories