Traffic will be impacted as groups show for controversial Steve Bannon visit
Cadets at The Citadel have been granted leave. The governor and those competing for his job are expected to be in attendance. There will be an increased law enforcement presence in the area of the military college and the Holliday Alumni Center.
Plenty of eyes are on The Citadel today as controversial former White House adviser Steve Bannon is speaking at an event tonight. There's also a rally planned in opposition.
Visitors can be expected to be wanded down or searched ahead of the event. Even those not attending will be impacted as the special event and security needed will require street closures.
Officials with the Charleston Police Department say Hagood Avenue from Fishburne Street to Huger Street will be closed to vehicular and pedestrian traffic from 3:30 p.m. until 10 p.m. Congress Street from Hagood Avenue to President Street will also be closed. (Residents of Congress Street, Hagood Avenue and the adjacent neighborhoods will be able to get to their homes at all times during the event.)
Bannon will be speaking at the Patriot Dinner -- a yearly event held by the Citadel Republican Society. He will be introduced by GOP gubernatorial candidate Catherine Templeton.
"We are disappointed that the Republican Society has invited Steve Bannon to come speak at the Citadel," said Charleston County Democratic Party Chairman Brady Quirk-Garvan in October. "Bannon is an unabashed white nationalist and racist, and he is not welcome in Charleston. The Republican Society should be ashamed for bringing this racist bigot to the Holy City."
In response to those critical of the Bannon visit, the president of the Citadel Republican Society, Cameron Brown, says he hopes differences can be overcome.
"In Charleston we tend to show people that we can connect and that we can actually overcome our differences. We've shown that in the past. I believe we'll be able to do so tomorrow as well," senior cadet Cameron Brown said in a Thursday interview with ABC News 4.
Lowcountry activist Pastor Thomas Dixon argues Bannon's visit to the military college contradicts The Citadel's motto of "duty, honor, respect."
“But when it comes to disrespect, we need to live up collectively to The Citadel motto," Dixon said. "This community, America, needs to live up to duty, honor respect. And respect goes a long way. And right now the community feels disrespected so we will be rallying here tonight.”
The event is expected to start at 6 p.m. and end at around 8:30 p.m. Tickets for the event are sold out, and prices ranged from $65 per person to $1,000 per table of 10.
What is the Patriot Dinner?
The annual event of the Citadel Republican Society helps to pay for 50 or 60 cadets to go the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). It's a 4-day trip for those cadets to Washington and an opportunity to learn what the conference boasts as a "powerful combination of knowledge and activism critical for the advancement of conservatism."