Kyle Bristow, the executive director of the Foundation for the Market Place of Ideas, announced he would resign from the role in a statement posted to the FMI website Saturday. The Clinton Township-based group is to host an alt-right conference featuring Spencer, Cameron Padgett, and other white nationalists at a secret location in metro Detroit on Sunday, the eve of Spencer's visit to MSU.
Bristow, 31, also downplayed his racist behavior over the years, saying that much of it occurred a decade ago when he was still in college at MSU. It was there that he served as the head of a chapter of an alleged hate group and organized a "Catch an Illegal Immigrant Day," according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Up until recently, however, Bristow was posting racist epithets to Twitter. Pepe the Frog, a cartoon character the alt-right has adopted to denote anti-Semitism, was a mainstay on his feed. He also recently posted a video that suggested Mexicans who attempt to illegally cross into the U.S. be electrocuted.
"I wish to relay that I abhor violence — of which I have never engaged and have always disavowed," Bristow says in the letter.
He deleted his Twitter account prior to issuing the statement.
Bristow says he will take further steps to disassociate from the alt-right. According to the letter, he will no longer represent Cameron Padgett, a Richard Spencer-sympathizer who has booked Spencer's visits to college campuses around the country. Padgett has brought federal suits against the University of Cincinnati and Ohio State University.
With Bristow's departure from FMI, the future of the group is uncertain. While he said in his resignation that the group's aim is to "promote the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution," on his Twitter, Bristow often cast it as a legal defense fund for the alt-right. Bristow says FMI will be transferred to "the control of someone else to manage so its mission can be advanced," or it will be dissolved.
His full letter is below:
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March 3, 2018
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, and which juxtaposed these statements with my recent legitimate and meritorious legal advocacy on behalf of people and organizations who espouse political views which happen to be controversial.
The media is not whatsoever justified in vilifying me. Just as I have stood up for the free speech rights of people on the right side of the political spectrum, I have likewise—in my capacity as an attorney—stood up for the rights of people on the left side of the political spectrum. I take my calling as an attorney seriously and have aggressively represented people from all walks of life: which includes homeless people as well as multimillionaires, people of all races, and people of all sexual orientations. You might be surprised to learn that I once was nearly held in contempt of court for repeatedly demanding that a rural judge from a conservative jurisdiction refer to my client—who was transsexual—on the record by their assigned gender rather than by their biological gender; you might also be surprised to learn that I served as the president of my high school's international club while I was a junior and senior and that when I travel internationally, I try my best to speak the local language (albeit poorly)—which I only point out to show that I have respect for cultures and human dignity and that there is a side to the story which the media is not telling.
The people who know me best—my friends and family, my current and former clients, former employers, and lawyers and judges with whom I regularly deal—know me as a passionate defender of the law and an aggressive advocate of my clients’ rights. Whether I am demanding the dismissal of an unconstitutional criminal charge against a homeless client who merely held up a sign to request food near a busy street intersection, or I am repeatedly demanding that a rural judge refer to a transsexual client by their assigned gender, or I am providing pro bono legal assistance to poor people who happen to be down on their luck, I do my job and do it as well as I can
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. Yesterday, an attorney substituted in for me so as to continue representing Cameron Padgett for his federal lawsuits against the University of Cincinnati and the Ohio State University, and today I deleted my private Twitter profile and now am announcing that I will no longer serve in any capacity with the Foundation for the Marketplace of Ideas, Inc.—which was founded by a number of licensed attorneys and me in 2016 so as to promote the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution. I will not be in attendance at the upcoming Michigan State University event—which will happen as a result of the recent successful and high-profile lawsuit I filed on behalf of my client—, nor will I attend FMI's upcoming Detroit conference where attendees will merely dine on appetizers and drink beverages from an open bar as they mingle. FMI will be transferred to the control of someone else to manage so its mission can be advanced, or else it will be dissolved.
In closing, I wish to relay that I abhor violence—of which I have never engaged and have always disavowed—, I regret having previously used language which is needlessly offensive, the characterizations made of me by the media are inaccurate, and I salute everyone who stands up for the rights that are guaranteed by the Constitution—no matter who is exercising those rights.
Although the media’s vilification of me prompted this statement, I nevertheless believe it is the morally right decision to make as I move forward in life.