CINCINNATI (TDB) -- The campus cops apparently had to keep order and still some conservatives who came to hear British National Party leader Nick Griffin were chased and threatened by protesters last night. Griffin is often described as a European racist who heads a fringe party that has claimed the Holocaust never happened. He is on a U.S. campus speaking tour, and contends militant Muslims are a threat to white Europeans. His stop at MSU was sponsored by the Young Americans for Freedom, a conservative organization whose leader says today that a "mob of extremists" tried to shout Griffin down, then turned violent and threatened people with baseball bats.
Here is some live blogging on Michigan Messenger from Griffin's appearance, which apparently was cut short when a fire alarm went off.
There have been other free speech uproars over events hosted by conservatives at Michigan State. Immigration opponents Tom Tancredo and Chris Simcox, who heads the Minutemen, ran into angry protests that made headlines last year. Kyle Bristow chairs the YAF chapter at Michigan State and offered his account of the disturbances over Griffin:
"Upon exiting the building, YAF members were chased by a mob of extremists carrying baseball bats, canes and sticks. The mod shouted 'let's get them' as the YAF members ran towards safety."
Bristow says he will have a video up at some point later today.
Nobody seems to have gotten hurt, but police reports were filed. YAFWatch is a group that monitors and opposes the rightwing organization at Michigan State. It confirms that the heckling and attempts to shout down Griffin's speech got out of hand and took a dangerous turn. But it disputes that people were carrying baseball bats, although there were threats of physical violence. Todd Heywood, the author of the live blogging post on Michigan Messenger and today's follow on YAFWatch, says the protesters should have respected the First Amendment, and chastised those who shouted "Get them" and chased the four YAF members.
"We urge further organizers to remember nonviolence is key to the process of confronting and challenging hate groups and hate speech. Dissent does not require violence and intimidation tactics."