Richard Spencer wanted a platform. He's faced protesters instead

University of Florida shocked they can't stop racist speech

Audience members chanted, "It's your fault!" as Spencer talked about Heather Heyer, a woman who died when a driver rammed his vehicle into counter-protesters at a violent white nationalist protest in August in Charlottesville, Virginia. "My interest in speaking at the University of Florida, speaking all over the country, is to raise consciousness among whites, among white people", Spencer said.

The University of Florida later reversed its decision on Thursday's event, saying it was committed to upholding the First Amendment, even if that required security measures that would cost $500,000.

University spokeswoman Janine Sikes said that the school can not control who will be permitted to attend the white nationalist event.

Rabbi Berl Goldman, executive director of the Lubavitch Chabad Jewish Student Center there, echoed a call by Ken Fuchs, president of the university, to shun the white supremacists, and urged students and community members to avoid the talk.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott declared a state of emergency for Alachua County on Monday, saying in his executive order a "threat of a potential emergency is imminent", and that law enforcement must defend "public safety and security will be safeguarded and critical infrastructure, and public and private property will be protected". University administrators had initially wanted to deny Spencer the chance to speak but ultimately had to relent.




Shouting and booing from the protesters in the hall - which included plenty of empty space and a small contingent of his supporters in the first few rows - left Spencer unable to make a sustained speech.

Some students plan to protest what they consider to be hate speech, while others will keep their distance. "We don't want your Nazi hate", the protesters chanted, pounding drums and carrying signs championing diversity.

The clashes some feared didn't happen, as Spencer's outnumbered fans seemed focused on attending the event at the Curtis M. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts rather than on confronting the crowds. Spencer said, describing himself as a "dissident intellectual". The event attracted very few people sympathetic to Spencer, who heads the National Policy Institute, a group that extolls white-nationalist ideology many consider hateful and more akin to white supremacy.

UF finally granted their request after the National Policy Institute threatened to sue the school. The tickets are free and available to the general public.

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