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Authors of The Limits of Dissent, The Constitutional Status of Armed Civilian Militias to Speak Aug. 26 at Centenary President's Convocation

Contact: Lynn Stewart, Centenary News Service
318-869-5120 or 869-5709

SHREVEPORT, LA -- Two experts on hate and extremist groups will kick off the 1997-98 year at Centenary College. They are Thomas Halpern of Los Angeles, Calif., and Brian Levin of Pomona, N.J., the authors of The Limits of Dissent: The Constitutional Status of Armed Civilian Militias.

The Centenary faculty selected the book for summer reading by first-year Centenary students prior to their arrival on campus. It was chosen in conjunction with the year's over-arching theme, "(In)Tolerance," which will form the basis of about 20 percent of the programs on campus during the coming year. The lecture and the book will be disucssed in numerous classes during the year.

The annual President's Convocation, free and open to the public, will be held at 11 a.m. Tuesday, Aug. 26 in the Brown Memorial Chapel.

Halpern is an expert on extremist groups. Until 1996, he was acting director of fact finding for the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), where he coordinated the League's efforts to monitor and counteract anti-Semitism, racism, and extremism of both the far right and the far left. He co-authored several ADL publications on the activities of armed militias, the Ku Klux Klan, neo-Nazi Skinheads, and Louis Farrakhan's Nation of Islam, among other groups.

He has addressed law enforcement conferences and other audiences around the country, and has testified before Congress on terrorism and extremism in America. An honors graduate of Harvard University, Halpern is currently a student at Stanford Law School in Palo Alto, Calif.

Levin, an attorney, is associate professor of criminal justice and director of the Center on Hate and Extremism at Richard Stockton College of New Jersey. He was formerly associate director for legal affairs at the Southern Poverty Law Center's Klanwatch/Militia Task Force in Montgomery, Ala., and was legal director of the Center for the Study of Ethnic and Racial Violence in Newport Beach, Calif.

He began his career as a New York City police officer in the Harlem-Washington Heights area of Manhattan during the crack wars of the 1980s. After graduating with multiple honors from the University of Pennsylvania, Levin received his law degree from Stanford University, where he was given the Block Civil Liberties Award for his work on hate crime.

He is a member of the bar of the Supreme Court of the United States and the state of California. He has testified as an expert on hate and extremism before Congress, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights and various state legislatures. He has appeared on various national television news and public affairs broadcasts on hate, terrorism and extremism. He has also appeared in various national publications and wire services.

The two will meet with Centenary students and organizations during a three-day visit which ends Tuesday, Aug. 26.

Centenary College of Louisiana, founded in 1825, is the nation's oldest private liberal arts college west of the Mississippi. A selective liberal arts and sciences institution, it is regularly listed in national publications and rankings, including U.S. News & World Report's "America's Best Colleges" and Money Magazine's "Best College Values."

Centenary is located in Shreveport, La.

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