White supremacist Richard Spencer was met by thousands of protesters Thursday afternoon at the University of Florida. This is his first planned campus visit since the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August.
Students and community members chanted “We don’t want your Nazi hate” and “Nazi scum off our streets” as police lined the streets and kept pro and anti-Spencer protesters separated as best they could.
Inside the Phillips Center, Spencer took the stage just after 2:45 p.m. and was met with a similar response to the chaos outside. Audience members stood with their fists raised and chanted, “Go home, Spencer… Nazis are not welcome here.” Students inside the venue are reporting that Spencer was barely able to speak due to continual interruption.
Spencer’s speech lasted less than an hour and a half but cost the university more than $500,000 in security costs. According to the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office, the police presence was doubled or, in some cases, tripled, creating the heaviest police presence on campus in UF’s history. Florida Governor Rick Scott declared a state of emergency ahead of the speech in order to request help from the National Guard.
Spencer, who calls himself as an “identitarian,” claims credit for coining “alt-right.” The term did not gain nationwide recognition until Hillary Clinton treated it as a mainstream movement by denouncing it during her 2016 campaign.
Spencer’s views are in opposition to much of the American Right. He recently told a Gainesville reporter that he wouldn’t mind if the country adopted socialism. When he spoke at Texas A & M University, Spencer called conservatism “useless.”