Photo courtesy of David J. Phillip | Richard Spencer was met by protestors that outnumbered his supporters at the University of Florida last Thursday. The next stop on his “college recruiting tour” will be the University of Cincinnati, which is hosting him because the administration feared a lawsuit for refusing to let him speak.
White nationalist Richard Spencer visited the University of Florida’s (UF) campus in Gainesville last Thursday and has his eyes set on the University of Cincinnati (UC). Spencer took the stage at the Phillips Center just after 2:45 p.m and was met immediately with resounding boo’s and taunting chants such as “Go home Spencer.”
Protesters outnumbered Spencer’s supporters almost 10 to one and kept up a relentless stream of heckling throughout his speech, leading to several moments of frustration from Spencer. He was engaged with the crowd and responded directly to chants — focusing on the hecklers than his actual supporters — saying “I’m not going home, I will stand here all day if I have to.”
Security was a major concern for UF. Violent riots followed a speech by Spencer last summer at the University of Virginia, resulting in the death of one student and prompted UF to increase the number of police officers present by drawing manpower from the surrounding counties. The state of Florida declared a state of emergency, and the city of Gainesville was on high alert throughout the days leading up.
Spencer is on what he has called a “college recruiting tour.” This event thrust UF into the ongoing debate about what constitutes protected speech and the extent of its limits. Spencer is the president of the National Policy Institute, a leader of the “alt-right” movement and a proponent of the White nationalist movement that advocates for a White “awakening” and a White ethno-state.
UC is now facing this same free speech debate, as it is one of the next universities scheduled on Spencer’s tour. UC has been in deliberations on whether it should allow the self-proclaimed White nationalist to speak. However, due to its position as a public university, administrators feared they would face a lawsuit if they denied Spencer’s request. Members of the Board of Trustees condemned hate when addressing Spencer’s upcoming visit to campus.
“Hate has no place on our campus or in our world,” the board said in a statement at a meeting on Oct. 17. “We, the Board of Trustees, denounce prejudice and racism and fully embrace the diversity that makes our university so great.”
UC President Neville Pinto also said Spencer’s request to speak “is provoking fear in our community especially for those who are direct targets of his hate, prejudice and racism.”
Spencer’s speech is currently scheduled for Saturday. However, there are rumors that the speech at UC will be delayed to a later date.
By: Riley Head ~A&E Editor~