Bill Ayers Finally Allowed To Speak

1960's Ex-radical Gives Speech At The University of Wyoming

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    NEWSLETTERS

    AP
    Ayers doesn't agree with Obama on this one.

    Security was tight as William Ayers spoke on education concerns at the University of Wyoming after a federal judge forced the school to host him.

    UW President Tom Buchanan decided not to allow the current University of Illinois-Chicago professor to speak on campus over concern that veiled threats the university had received from people opposed to Ayers would result in violence.

    But the event, which included bag and coat searches and bomb-sniffing dogs, was held without incident at a campus gym.

    Ayers briefly commented about his First Amendment fight with the university at the start of his 50-minute address, but the bulk of his talk focused on his expertise in education issues and how the best education opportunities should be available to rich and poor alike.

    In a few questions on his Weather Underground days, Ayers acknowledged that some of its actions were despicable and set a bad example. But he stressed that that was in the context of thousands of people being killed each week in Vietnam.

    When Ayers spoke, he had no interruptions from about a dozen protesters among the roughly 1,100 people who showed up.

    Ayers initially was invited to the Wyoming campus by the UW Social Justice Research Center, but the privately endowed organization canceled the invitation because of hundreds of critical phone calls and e-mails.

    Lanker and Ayers sued the university, saying it violated their constitutional rights to free speech and assembly.

    Ayers' past became a political issue during the 2008 presidential campaign because President Barack Obama had served with Ayers on the board of a Chicago charity. Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin accused Obama of "palling around with terrorists."

    Obama has condemned Ayers' radical activities, and there's no evidence they were ever close friends or that Ayers advised Obama on policy.

    Other universities have canceled Ayers speeches recently, including the University of Nebraska and Boston College.