Penn State, Fearing Violence, Cancels Show by Proud Boys Founder

Penn State, Fearing Violence, Cancels Show by Proud Boys Founder a student walks in front of a building at a university A student walks in front of the Old Main building on the Pennsylvania State University campus in State College, Pennsylvania. (AP)

By Jeffrey Rodack | Tuesday, 25 October 2022 11:00 AM EDT

A planned comedy event featuring the founder of the Proud Boys was canceled by Pennsylvania State University on Monday.

The event was to have been co-hosted by Alex Stein and the group's founder, Gavin McInnes. University officials had earlier said the show would go on in the interest of supporting free speech, according to The New York Times, but it was canceled after a demonstration against the speakers turned violent.

Penn State President Neeli Bendapudi said in a statement: "As many of you know, a speaking event on the University Park campus was canceled tonight [Oct. 24] because campus police were concerned about escalating violence and public safety. The event was to feature Gavin McInnes and Alex Stein who are provocateurs known for their abhorrent views and rhetoric.

"From the start, Penn State's administration firmly denounced the two speakers. However, they were invited to speak on campus by a registered student organization and as an institution of higher education, we support the fundamental constitutional right of free speech and free expression of all members of our community. It is precisely because of this unwavering commitment to free speech that provocative individuals target our campus to deliver speeches.

"Over the coming weeks, let us reflect on the role we must all play in encouraging vigorous debate and also upholding the values we hold dear."

CBS News reported that students estimated there were about 500 demonstrators at one point.

The show had been billed as "politically provocative" comedy. The New York Times reported it was organized by Uncensored America, which it said was founded by Sean Semanko, a radio host who worked as a field organizer for Donald Trump's 2020 presidential campaign.

McInnes is a Canadian who founded the first official chapter of the Proud Boys in 2016.

The Times noted several dozen of the Proud Boys have been indicted in connection with the Jan. 6, 2021 breach at the Capitol.

Semanko, McInnes, and Stein could not be reached by the Times for comment.