Penn State Police Ask State College, PA to Avoid Proud Boys

Penn State took another step Thursday to calm the fervor that has swirled since an upcoming campus event was publicly announced featuring two far-right speakers, including the founder of the Proud Boys.

The university’s police department acknowledged in a written statement that it was aware of a mass email from an unrecognized group. The email, police wrote, contains “inaccurate, false and potentially harmful information.”

The email – sent on Thursday and addressed to all students, faculty and staff – reached nearly 2,000 words and called on people to protest outside the Thomas Building, where the event will be held, on Monday. It also included a bogus equivalency to Penn State’s decision to reject a 2017 event and claimed members of the Proud Boys would “wait to attack students and community members” at downtown State College.

Penn State Police wrote that they were not aware of any credible threats of violence as of Thursday.

The university publicly criticized the event organized by a recognized student organization, but added that it could not cancel the presentation because of the right to freedom of expression. Four First Amendment Experts – who spoke to the Center Daily Times last year for an almost identical event – said the university was correct in its assertion.

“University Police and Public Safety strongly recommend that members of the community avoid the event, as non-engagement in these types of situations where speakers attempt to create outrage is a proven method of mitigating confrontations, as well as the attention these individuals need,” police wrote.

Earlier this month, student band Uncensored America announced a show scheduled for 8 p.m. Monday in Penn State’s Thomas Building. The presentation is called “Stand Back & Stand By”, a nod to former President Donald Trump’s reaction when asked to condemn white supremacist groups during a presidential debate.

One of the speakers is self-proclaimed professional troll Alex Stein, whose podcast was banned from YouTube for violating hate speech guidelines. he once hosted a Holocaust denier and described its video streaming platform as “anti-gay, anti-woman, anti-black, anti-semitic.”

The other is Gavin McInnes, founder of the all-male Proud Boys, who is designated by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a hate group. The Proud Boys have rejected the label and describe themselves as “Western chauvinists who refuse to apologize for creating the modern world”.

Penn State offered students, faculty, and staff two primary options: ignore the speakers and/or stage a counter-speech to oppose their message. The university planned an event that would coincide with Uncensored America’s schedule.

“Together We Are” is slated for Monday from 6-10 p.m. in the Alumni and Heritage rooms of the HUB-Robeson Center. It is planned to feature a number of activities and performances that promote belonging and community.

Penn State Police will be on site as a precaution based on “expected crowd size and the potential for other concerns around the event that could cause disruption,” the spokeswoman wrote. university, Lisa Powers, in a statement.

“University Police are planning and prepared to take all reasonable steps to protect the safety of our campus. They will also do so in this instance and respond appropriately depending on the circumstances,” Powers wrote. “University Police are engaged with external law enforcement partners in the planning of this event and, for security reasons, we cannot provide specific details on aspects of this security plan.”

AAnyone with information about specific threats to contact University Police and Public Safety by dialing 814-863-1111 or dialing 911 in an emergency. State College Police are ready to help if requested, Capt. Greg Brauser wrote in an email Wednesday.

“Many provocateurs who gain a platform for their disparaging rhetoric find their causes amplified by angry protests from those in our community who deplore their behavior and speech. These angry confrontations only serve to further the goals of these individuals and the vile ideas they represent,” the University Police wrote. “Provocateurs love nothing more than filling a room with protesters and recording it as content for their online platforms. As a community, we shouldn’t be promoting their goals.”

CDT reporter Josh Moyer contributed to this report.

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The Old Main steeple above the trees on the Penn State campus on Sept. 12, 2022. Abby Drey adrey@centredaily.com

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Bret Pallotto primarily reports on courts and crime for the Center Daily Times. He grew up in Mifflin County and graduated from Lock Haven University.

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