Criticism grows after Penn State cancels event with Proud Boys founder

One day after Pennsylvania State University shut down an event that was to feature Gavin McInnes, founder of the Proud Boys, criticism continued Tuesday over the planned appearance and its abrupt cancellation.

The university initially had resisted calls to cancel the event sponsored by a student group, citing the importance of upholding free-speech rights. But officials said escalating violence caused them to cancel the Monday event shortly before it was due to begin. The combination of agitated demonstrators, at least one physical altercation, a crowd surge toward the event venue, and chemical spray from both the crowd and police officers led to the decision, Penn State officials said.

One person was arrested, but the school said an investigation was ongoing and others could face charges.

In a statement to the campus community, Penn State President Neeli Bendapudi characterized McInnes and Alex Stein, who also was set to appear, as “provocateurs known for their abhorrent views and rhetoric.

The Proud Boys are a far-right extremist group with a history of violence, known for instigating street brawls with perceived enemies, including those in the anti-fascist or antifa movement. Federal investigators have accused leaders of the Proud Boys of conspiring to oppose by force President Biden’s swearing-in, culminating in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol.

McInnes stepped down from his role in the Proud Boys in 2018. But Cassie Miller, a senior research analyst at the So