A lawyer who represented Richard Spencer in a fight over an apperance at a Michigan university has resigned from a rightwing civil liberties organization after it was revealed that he’s also a white nationalist.
Kyle Bristow was a member of the Foundation for the Marketplace of Ideas, and successfully represented Spencer when the provocateur was denied a request to speak on the campus of Michigan State University. Thanks to his legal maneuvering, Spencer will deliver a speech at the East Lansing school on Monday.
But Bristow won’t be there. Nor will he be at an upcoming meeting of the group.
That’s because Bristow, 31, quit his own group after he was revealed to have supported white nationalism. A decade ago, while attending Michigan State, he lead Young Americans for Freedom, the first student group to be called a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. The group held a “Koran desecration contest” and promoted a “Catch an Illegal Immigrant Day.”
“In light of the recent relentless and unjustifiable vilification of me, as well as the mischaracterizations of who I am as a person, I have unilaterally made the decision to provide this clarification and to withdraw from politics,” he wrote in a statement.
After college, Bristow went on to become an attorney. While he claims his positions have changed, he subsequently started representing white nationalists like Spencer.
However, when the Detroit Free Press confronted him about this, he said there was no connection, declaring himself “shocked that you would insinuate that being right-wing is somehow violative of my professional obligations as an attorney.”
Bristow was just a civil libertarian, he claimed, and that his non-partisan organization was just defending “the freedoms guaranteed by the United States Constitution.”
“I defend the freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution and do so unapologetically,” he wrote in an email to the paper. “There are justices on the U.S. Supreme Court who rule as I would if I was there — there is nothing exotic about being right-wing.”
Bristow criticized the media for “vilifying” him and distanced himself from his previous remarks.
“In recent weeks, journalists have published horrifically disparaging articles about me which contain acerbic, offensive, juvenile and regrettable statements I mostly made over a decade ago while I was in college and a prominent and staunchly conservative activist,” Bristow wrote.