Penn State Cancels Event By Proud Boys Founder, Citing Threat Of Violence

Pennsylvania State University cancelled a planned comedy event on Monday that was to be co-hosted by the founder of the Proud Boys, a far-right group. This was after a demonstration against the speakers turned violent.

Officials at Penn State had said they would allow an event with Gavin McInnes, the founder of the Proud Boys, because they support free speech. Even though they don’t agree with the hateful things he says.

The university said that the event should be canceled because of the “threat of escalating violence.”

Neeli Bendapudi, the university’s president, said in a statement that a peaceful street protest against the event turned violent. She said that, from what she understood, Alex Stein, a co-host of the comedy event, had gone into the crowd and raised tensions.

She said that it is unclear which individuals on-site resorted to physical confrontation and to using pepper spray against others in the crowd, including against police officers. She added that no one had been injured.

The event was organized by Uncensored America, a nonprofit that hosts conversations with controversial figures to fight censorship and cancel culture.

Uncensored America was founded two years ago by Sean Semanko. It is a group that neither the radio host nor Mr. Stein could be reached for comment early Tuesday morning.

Mr. McInnes is a British-born Canadian who became a provocateur after working at a hipster magazine in Montreal that relocated to Brooklyn. He founded the first official chapter of the Proud Boys in New York in 2016.

In January 2021, the Proud Boys were involved in the violent attack on the United States Capitol. Several dozen of its members have been indicted in connection with the assault.

In recent years, people have been protesting against conservative and right-wing speakers on university campuses in the United States. This has caused attention to focus on the question of whether campuses are shutting out politically unpopular points of view.

The university president said that the initial decision to allow the comedy event was constitutional and reflected the institution’s support for free speech.

The university president said she was proud of students who had peacefully protested the speakers, and noted that she was among those who gathered to celebrate diversity at the university.

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