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White nationalist says he might still march through Texas A&M campus

After Texas A&M canceled white nationalist Preston Wiginton's Sept. 11 campus rally, Wiginton said Tuesday that he was pondering a march on a public street that passes through the College Station campus.

Preston Wiginton, right, during a celebration of Second Amendment Day he organized on the Texas A&M University campus in 2013.

Editor's note: This story has been updated to say that Wiginton no longer plans to hold a Sept. 11 event.

Less than 24 hours after Texas A&M University officials canceled his plans to hold a rally on a university plaza, white nationalist Preston Wiginton indicated Tuesday that he is planning to sue and remains determined to hold some kind of event on or near the College Station campus.

In a statement, Wiginton said he is considering leading a march on a public street through the university instead of his originally scheduled “White Lives Matter” rally. A&M officials said they axed the planned Sept. 11 event out of safety concerns. But Wiginton said he didn’t buy that reasoning.

"Their real fear is the fear of words," he said. (Update, Aug. 17: Wiginton said he is no longer considering an unauthorized march.)

Wiginton also said that a lawyer sympathetic to his cause has filed a complaint against A&M with the American Civil Liberties Union. He said he is working with private lawyers to pursue a lawsuit.

“We invite Texas A&M to reconsider their cancellation and to take the historical step to address this issue. However, it appears that at TAMU white lives don't matter and the demise of the white population is of no concern to them,” he said.

A&M officials declined to comment. They moved Monday to bar Wiginton’s event from campus after he compared it to the violent demonstration over the weekend in the college town of Charlottesville, Virginia. Multiple people tussled, and one counterprotester was killed at the “Unite the Right” event there.

When Wiginton announced his original plans, he did so with a press release headlined “CHARLOTTESVILLE TODAY TEXAS A&M TOMORROW.” A&M officials cited that headline in their decision to cancel the event, suggesting it invoked the possibility of violence.

Wiginton, who is in his 50s, briefly attended A&M last decade. He has hosted numerous white nationalist speakers at the university, taking advantage of the public school’s inability to block events because of their message.

Last December, he hosted Spencer for a speech. Hundreds of people attended, and thousands showed up to protest. Texas Department of Public Safety troopers in riot gear had to clear the university's student center as tensions mounted.

A&M’s decision to cancel the event was widely praised by Texas leaders disgusted by Wiginton’s message. But it also raised First Amendment questions. Legal experts said it’s unclear who would prevail if the case made it to court. Wiginton has a free speech claim, experts said. But A&M also has a legitimate case to make about the threat of violence.

Disclosure: Texas A&M University has been a financial supporter of The Texas Tribune. A complete list of Tribune donors and sponsors can be viewed here.

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