CINCINNATI -- A coalition of faith-based groups, neighborhood groups and social justice organizations are planning to use love to confront a white nationalist who is demanding a platform to speak at the University of Cincinnati.
Richard Spencer threatened to sue UC if not allowed to speak on campus. To be clear, UC doesn't even know if he'll show up. No one at the school invited him, but University President Neville Pinto said UC had to agree to his request: As a state institution, the university can't block him from speaking simply based on his hateful message.
A citywide meeting to discuss how to properly oppose Spencer's message of white supremacy will be held at 6 p.m. Thursday at New Prospect Baptist Church in Roselawn (1580 Summit Road).
Spencer is appearing at the University of Florida Thursday and has threatened The Ohio State University with similar lawsuits if it doesn't allow him to speak in Columbus. His attorney set a deadline of 5 p.m. Friday for OSU to make a decision.
Earlier this week, University of Cincinnati students and alumni had a message for Spencer: "Go home. You're not wanted here."
Hamilton County Clerk of Courts Aftab Pureval, a UC College of Law alumnus, said he gathered student groups to shoot a video so they could together address Spencer's impending visit. Spencer helped organize and headline the deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, where anti-racist protester Heather Heyer was killed.
He has advocated repeatedly for the establishment of a white, patriarchal state in the United States of America, arguing that the country "belongs to white men."
Despite his frequent reliance on First Amendment protections to ensure speaking engagements at college campuses -- his attorney threatened to sue UC -- Spencer also has advanced the idea that the foundational document of his ideal state would not adhere to the United States Constitution but would instead begin, "We hold these truths to be self-evident; that all men are created unequal."
UC's United Black Student Association created a hashtag in January to stand against hate: #WeChooseLove. Student groups will continue using that to combat Spencer's message.
"With the tense political climate and a lot of things going on, we wanted it to be known that every action that our body takes and everything we do will be out of love, and that we choose love from here moving forward," said Chandler Rankin, a UC sophomore and political chair of the United Black Student Association.
Pureval posted the video Sunday night, and it quickly gained tens of thousands of views. He said it was a chance for the students to be leaders.
"They want to make sure that the world knows that they're standing up to this -- that they're not on the sidelines, that they're not indifferent or ambivalent, that they're organized and they're standing up clearly and effectively against this hate," Pureval said.