Steve Bannon delivers speech at The Citadel
Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon spoke at The Citadel Republican Society's Patriot Dinner on Friday.
Groups plan to rally in Charleston across from the Holliday Alumni Center on the campus of The Citadel in opposition to Bannon's visit to the military college.
(Warning: Live rally footage may contain offensive language.)
The rally is expected to begin at 4 p.m. ABC News 4/WCIV will also live stream Bannon's speech, which will begin sometime around 6 p.m. WATCH HERE.
"We have hired a firm to come in with their crew and ensure the safety of the individuals inside. Simply at the front by having them wanded down and searched prior to entering into the facilities," said Cameron Brown, President of The Citadel Republican Society.
Colonel John Dorrian, Vice President of Communications and Marketing for The Citadel acknowledged that expressing controversial views on campus can come at the price of adding extra police officers, but he assures the military college can handle the security.
"The Citadel is completely dedicated to free expression of views,” Dorrian said. He added that the school will account for all the costs, "but I think that’s something we’re going to have to take measure and be flexible about what we’re doing,” he said.
It’s an effort to protect freedom of speech while respecting core values of a distinguished military college.
Earlier this week, civil rights groups announced they would be demonstrating against the visit by the former strategist for Donald Trump.
Community organizer Rev. Thomas Dixon said he will be exercising their right to rally peacefully alongside other activist groups, including the National Action Network and Indivisible Charleston,
"Freedom of expression does not run one way, but it runs both ways. Freedom of speech is a dual street," Dixon said.
Dee Partridge with Charleston S.U.R.J. said Bannon spreads a divisive message.
"I think his actions, his support of white nationalist(s) and his viewpoints, especially when he was advising our current president, is very clear on what he believes. He’s not ambiguous," says Partridge. “It’s easy to turn a blind eye, that’s what we’ve been doing for hundreds of years, but it’s time to stop doing that, it’s not going to change, and if we are silent it is a form of violence."
In light of initial backlash, The Citadel Republican Society released a statement about Bannon's visit, saying he "has been at the forefront of conservative thought and policy for the last 20 years," and would be "by all measures an impressive and interesting speaker."
Ahead of Bannon's visit, Lt. Gen. John W. Rosa, President of The Citadel explained that the college does not take a political stand, but encourages debate and sharing many points of view.
"We are confident in the ability of our cadets, students, faculty, staff and community to decide for themselves if ideas presented by speakers have any merit," Rosa said in a statement. "We greatly value civility, and all members of the college community share in the responsibility for maintaining a climate of mutual respect."
Catherine Templeton will introduce Bannon when he speaks at The Citadel Republican Society event Friday.
Templeton is running for governor. In a recent radio interview, she said Bannon represents "the voice of the rest of us."
The Patriot Dinner is an annual event and fundraiser hosted by The Citadel Republican Society to honor a national, state, or local official who embodies the values of the conservative campus club.