Spencer at the University of Florida will make for an interesting conversation before and after he speaks
Richard Spencer, one of the leaders of the Alt-Right will be speaking at the University of Florida on October 19th. It will be Spencer’s first public speaking engagement since the now famous, August march in Charlottesville at the University of Virginia.
August 12th there was a “Unite the Right” protest set to voice the group’s supporter’s dissatisfaction with the removal of a statue of Confederate General Robert E Lee.
The events were billed as one of the largest white supremacist events in recent US history, it was organized by Jason Kessler, a former journalist and a member of the Proud Boys, an ultra-nationalist group.
The Friday night before the aforementioned event, a number of protestors walked around the University of Virginia carrying torches and yelling slogans “white lives matter” and “blood and soil”.
Protesters gathered again on Saturday and clashed with counter-demonstrators. James Alex Fields Jr. took his car and rammed it into a crowd of counter-demonstrators. 32-year-old Heather Heyer was killed and 19 others were injured.
Meanwhile, two police officers who were monitoring the protests died when their helicopter crashed
President Donald Trump was pulled into the controversy when he comments on the events in Charlottesville and failed to explicitly name white supremacists as the aggressors in the clashes, blaming hatred “on many sides
Spencer, who heads up the white nationalist National Policy Institute, in an interview with the Daily Mail about the Charlottesville rally he stated that he had “the will to win” in the battle not to pull down the statue of a Confederate General, Robert E Lee.
“We’re going to be back here and we’re going to humiliate all of these people who opposed us,” he said. “We’ll be back here 100 times if necessary. I always win. Because I have the will to win, I keep going until I win.”
So for Spencer, it now on to speak at the University of Florida later this month.
Janine Sikes, a university spokeswoman, told The Washington Post, The University of Florida initially rejected a request by the National Policy Institute, which Spencer leads, to hold a campus event in September “based on specific security threats.”
UF released a statement Thursday making the previously tentative date official. The school is charging the allowable costs of $10,564 for rent and security.
The university has repeatedly stated that it will not be affiliated with the event in any way, but as a public institution, UF is legally obligated to allow the expression of many viewpoints by external groups, such as Spencer’s National Policy Institute.
The University of Florida had previously denied the group’s request to hold an event on Sept. 12, citing recent violence at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.
University President W. Kent Fuchs said at the time that the First Amendment doesn’t require risking imminent violence to students. However, Spencer and lawyers prevailed on the grounds of free speech and his speaking date in Gainesville was approved.
According to The Washington Post, Spencer won the right to speak at the University of Florida because of freedom of speech laws.
“It’s terribly important,” Spencer said of the University of Florida’s decision. “It’s not just important for me. It is clearly a free-speech issue.”
“When one just says things that are anodyne or conventional, free speech is not in question,” he said. “But when someone says something controversial and radical, then the rubber hits the road.”
The $10,000 set aside by the University of Florida for rent and security will go to the University of Florida Police Department, Gainesville Police Department, Alachua County Sheriff’s Office, Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Florida Highway Patrol and other agencies who will be providing first responders.