MSU: 4 officers injured, 25 arrested at Spencer speech

Jonathan Oosting
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Lansing — Three Michigan State University police officers and one state trooper were injured Monday during a raucous protest outside white nationalist Richard Spencer’s speech that resulted in 25 arrests, according to a police spokesman.

MSU Police Capt. Doug Monette described the injuries as “minor” but did not elaborate. The demonstration turned violent when a group of Spencer supporters attempted to march through an estimated 500 protesters, prompting pushing, shoving and punches.

Of the 25 people arrested Monday, MSU police said 13 face potential felony charges for crimes such as carrying a concealed weapon, resisting police and obstructing officers. All criminal reports will be sent to the Ingham County Prosecutor’s Office for review, according to the department.

A Detroit News reporter witnessed the arrest of Gregory Conte, a Spencer ally and director of operations at the National Policy Institute. Inmate records show a 29-year-old Gregory William John Conte was being held at the Ingham County jail on Tuesday, but charge and bail information was not immediately available.

Conte was seen sprinting through protesters gathered outside the venue. An officer asked him to stop, saying his actions could cause violence. After a brief interaction, the officer tackled Conte to the ground.

Protest organizers with “Stop Richard Spencer at MSU” said more than 20 individuals from their “side” were arrested Monday. They’ve started a donation page to raise funds for bail.

Spencer supporters and opponents were both seen berating police Monday, including Conte, who had yelled at officers, accusing them of having “no plan” to control crowds, “just like Charlottesville.”

A group of anti-fascist demonstrators formed a human barricade to stop an armored police vehicle and shouted at officers for “defending Nazis.” Some protesters also hurled rocks or other debris at officers escorting ticketholders into the Spencer speech.

MSU initially refused to rent space to Spencer for the speech, citing public safety concerns in the wake of a violent rally last fall in Charlottesville, Virginia, where one woman was killed by a man drove his car into a crowd of protesters.

The university eventually let Spencer speak at the remote agricultural pavilion during spring break as part of a settlement with Spencer associate Cameron Padgett, who had sued for access and was later required to pay a $1,600 rental fee and obtain a minimum of $1 million in liability insurance for the event.

MSU was expected to pay for and arrange for a police presence at the event, follow the university’s “dissent and disruption policy” and control entry and security at the venue.

Campus police said Michigan State Police, the Lansing Police Department, the East Lansing Police Department, Meridian Township Police Department, Eaton County Sheriff’s Office, Clinton County Sheriff’s Office, and Ingham County Sheriff’s Office were all part of the effort Monday.

Ingham County 911 and the Michigan Department of Corrections also provided assistance.

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