Texas university cancels white supremacist rally planned for next month

White nationalists clash with counter-protesters as they enter Lee Park during the Unite the Right rally on Aug 12, 2017.
White nationalists clash with counter-protesters as they enter Lee Park during the Unite the Right rally on Aug 12, 2017.PHOTO: AFP

CHICAGO (AFP) - A Texas university cancelled a planned white supremacist rally on its campus next month, citing safety concerns following the deadly violence at a rally in Virginia at the weekend.

Texas A&M University, one of the most prestigious public colleges in the United States, on Monday (Aug 14) scrapped a Sept 11 rally at which known white supremacist leader Richard Spencer was scheduled to speak.

Spencer was one of the leading figures in a rally that saw hundreds of white supremacists gather last Saturday in the town of Charlottesville, triggering violence that left one person dead and 19 others injured.

The university's decision to cancel the event came after it emerged that organisers were billing the event as "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," the university said in a statement.

Spencer has asked sympathisers to invite him to speak on campuses, and he has been invited to speak at the University of Florida on Sept 12, although authorities have yet to give their approval.

In an open letter to students, University of Florida president Kent Fuchs indicated how the college was torn over whether to give the event the green light.

"For many in our community, including myself, this speaker's presence would be deeply disturbing," Fuchs wrote, before adding that "we must follow the law, upholding the First Amendment not to discriminate based on content and provide access to a public space."