Speaker and former Neo- Nazi, Thomas â€œTJâ€ LeMissouri Western was forced to cancel the lecture of a former neo-Nazi speaker that was scheduled for earlier this month due to security conflicts.
As an anti-hate activist and educator, Thomas â€œTJâ€ Leydon shares his personal experience of being recruited by a Skinhead group at the age of fifteen, to becoming a recruiter while serving in the United States Military.
After an experience with his child mimicking his own racism at the age of three he committed his life to making a difference in turning Americaâ€™s youth away from Hate groups and violence.
â€œHe was only three, and I knew he wasnâ€™t going to find the cure for cancer or serve on the Supreme Court. He was going to be a mindless bum beating people for kicks.â€ Leydon says in a press release.
Because Leydon is currently the only former Skinhead working against the groups he once represented, he exposes himself to an element of danger.
Many white supremacy groups would prefer he did not have the opportunity to inform the same impressionable minds which they seek according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.
In addition to threats and harassment, online white supremacy groups who consider Leyden a traitor have gone so far as to issue a standing â€œkill on sightâ€ directive to eliminate him.
To minimize the threat, CampuSpeak the Colorado based education agency which manages Leydon, stipulated in his contract that he required armed security guards.
Missouri Westernâ€™s own security staff is not armed with guns, but carries pepper spray and expandable batons, forcing event organizers to look elsewhere for armed security.
Despite contacting local law enforcement agencies in an effort to contract off duty police officers, they were unable to secure armed officers.
Jonathan Kelley, Director of Public Safety explained, â€œIt was my understanding that providing personal body guard protection for individual citizens was not something routinely provided by local law enforcement.â€
With no other recourse, Missouri Western officials were forced to cancel the event despite Mr. Leydonâ€™s offer to appear without the benefit of armed security.
A new contract is currently in the works to secure a future lecture by Leydon in early November.
Taye Triggs, Director of the Center for Multicultural Affairs has high hopes for the students attending the lecture.
â€œI think itâ€™s important that Missouri Western produces global scholars, students that are able to go anywhere internationally (or) in the United States and be able to connect to people regardless of who they are or what their background is and be able to understand and have empathy,â€ Triggs said. â€œI hope that students become social justice soldiers.â€