CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - The commanding officer of The Citadel issued a statement Thursday afternoon to the military college community about Steve Bannon's scheduled appearance Friday night.
Bannon, a former advisor to President Donald Trump, is set to speak at the annual Patriot Dinner, hosted by the Citadel Republican Society.
The statement, issued by Lt. Gen. John Rosa, reads as follows:
Over the past two weeks, the College has prepared for the Citadel Republican Society's November 10th Patriot Dinner Event, with Steve Bannon. The event will also be attended by our Governor, our Lt Governor and many other civic leaders and guests. Also on November 10th across the street, Pastor Thomas Dixon is planning for a peaceful rally on the West Plaza adjacent to Johnson Hagood Stadium.
We are working closely with local authorities and the organizers of both events to provide everyone with a safe environment where they can express their views. As a public higher education institution dedicated to free expression principles, we believe this is critically important.
We fully support the rights of all Citadel community members, including cadets, students, faculty and staff, who are planning to participate in either the CRS event, or the peaceful rally across the street. If you choose to participate in either event, follow the instructions of the law enforcement officers who are there to protect all involved, and be mindful that you are a part of a community whose Core Values are Honor, Duty and Respect.
As we continue preparations, please be assured that the safety and security of everyone on campus and in our community remains our paramount concern. Our Citadel Community appreciates all that our local law enforcement community has done to set conditions for the events. Their increased presence this week and throughout the events is not in response to any specific heightened threat, but we will continue to monitor for information about anything that could jeopardize the safety of our campus community.
Finally, I want to thank our community for your patience and understanding as we've made the adjustments necessary to enable these free expression events, while also maintaining a safe learning environment.
Rosa has stated in the past that The Citadel does not endorse political figures or partisan points of view.
On Wednesday, The Citadel and Charleston city police said they would work together to ensure both citizens and cadets remain safe during Bannon's appearance Friday night.
The Charleston Police Department's Public Safety Operation Center will open at 3 p.m. Friday for agencies of the City of Charleston, Citadel Public Safety, Charleston County and the State Law Enforcement Dicision to manage the event and ensure lines of communications between law enforcement agencies and the community are open, Charleston Police Sgt. Patrick McLaughlin said.
In addition to the operation center, several streets will close ahead of and during Bannon's appearance.
Hagood Avenue from Fishburne Street to Huger Street will remain closed to vehicle and pedestrian traffic from approximately 3:30 p.m. until 10 p.m., police say. Also pass-through traffic on Congress Street from Hagood Avenue to President Street will not be allowed during that same timeframe.
Police say residents will see an increase in officers in the area during that time.
Residents and those traveling through the area on Friday evening are asked to proceed with caution and be aware of changes in traffic patterns, McLaughlin said. 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's speech a The Republican Society's Patriots Dinner was announced Oct. 26 and met with strong reaction from both sides of the aisle locally.
Bannon was the president's chief strategist but left the White House in August after serving for seven months.