The Citadel adds security ahead of Steve Bannon's speech Friday night
Symbols of security and sovereignty at The Citadel can be seen every day. Soon, an increased police presence will surround the campus and Holliday Alumni Center where controversial political advisor Steve Bannon will speak.
“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.
Brown, a fourth year cadet, says he recognizes why some people oppose Bannon’s visit. But he believes those on both sides of the debate will show civility.
“This country is a time and place where we are very divided. In Charleston, we tend to show people that we can connect and we can actually overcome our differences. And we’ve shown that in the past. And I believe we’ll be able to do that again,” he said.
“The Citadel is completely dedicated to free expression of views,” said Colonel John Dorrian, Vice President of Communications and Marketing for The Citadel.
Dorrian admits expressing controversial views can come at the price of adding extra police officers. But he assures the military college can handle the security.
“We’re going to keep tabs on all the bills and make sure we’re able to 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.
“We as The Citadel Republican Society are proud to be members of this prestigious institution,” added Brown.
Community organizer Pastor Thomas Dixon tells ABC News 4 he exchanged emails with Cameron Brown this week. Even though Pastor Dixon plans to protest Friday night, Brown says he's planning to invite Dixon to speak to The Citadel Republican Society. Dixon says he'll accept the invitation.