Tony Buzbee doesn’t want to increase tensions.
“I’m not trying to escalate things,” the prominent Houston lawyer said.
But in the aftermath of white nationalist Preston Wiginton’s efforts to organize a Sept. 11 rally on Texas A&M University campus, which had been billed as “TODAY CHARLOTTESVILLE TOMORROW TEXAS A&M,” Buzbee made himself clear.
“If he thinks I’m scared. He should think again,” Buzbee said.
As a Texas A&M system regent, Buzbee argued that the university had an obligation to cancel Wiginton’s proposed rally in order to keep students safe. The public university’s officials agreed on Aug. 14 and canceled the proposed rally, citing safety concerns.
Wiginton, a former Texas A&M student, had invited self-described “alt-right” leader Richard Spencer to speak at the rally. Spencer ranked among the most high-profile participants in the Charlottesville, Virginia, “Unite the Right” rally earlier this month, where violence left one woman dead and sparked a national debate about racism that has been centered partly on President Donald Trump’s response.
Buzbee, who held a Trump fundraiser at his house during the presidential campaign, made his feelings about Wiginton clear in a Facebook post before the Texas A&M rally was canceled.
“This fool, who dubs himself ‘the world’s strongest skinhead,’ has repeatedly held events at our university over the past ten years,” Buzbee wrote. “It is a damn shame that our University, which sent more officers to fight the Nazis than all the service academies combined, would be tarnished with trash like him. But, in the end, the best way to deal with a lowlife like him is to ignore him.”
According to Buzbee, Wiginton called his office after the rally was blocked and said he would be coming up to see Buzbee. Wiginton had also threatened to file a claim, presumably on First Amendment grounds, against Texas A&M.
“I guess my lawyers will now be suing the state of Texas,” Wiginton told a reporter.
In a telephone interview, Wiginton said he has filed a complaint with the American Civil Liberties Union. “We’re not going to have our civil rights denied,” he said.
Buzbee said litigation over the Texas A&M cancellation is likely. “I fully expect to be sued,” he said.
But the cancellation was well within the university’s rights, he said, since it had “nothing to do with the content of the speech” at the proposed rally, but rather with the promotional material that tied the event to Charlottesville.
Wiginton plans to reschedule the rally, which he said will focus on white displacement and marginalization, rather than on racial superiority. He said he has never met Buzbee. “He doesn’t know me,” he said, adding that the statements Buzbee made about him on the Facebook post were “not true.”
“Right now, everyone is too emotional,” he said.