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Richard Spencer, University of Florida

October 2017
University of Florida (Public college or university)
Gainesville, FL, USA

Identity of Speakers

  • Richard Spencer
    Faculty/Staff
    Other

    Richard Spencer is President of the National Policy Institute, leader of the "alt-right" movement, and self-described white supremacist.

Resources

Additional Information

  • Incident Nature:
    Rally or protest
    Other
  • Incident Responses:
    University administration protective of speech
  • Incident Status:
    No litigation
  • Incident Protested
  • Did not involve Speech Codes

Summary

Richard Spencer is President of the National Policy Institute, leader of the “alt-right” movement, and self-described white supremacist. In August 2017, Spencer and the National Policy Institute submitted a request to the University of Florida to rent the Phillips Center for a speaking engagement. Initially, the University denied Spencer’s request on the ground that specific threats of violence had been made in connection with the event. However, the University eventually provided Spencer a permit for the engagement. Though the Phillips Center is located on the University of Florida campus, the event was unaffiliated with the University, and Spencer was neither sponsored nor invited by any student groups. In October, Spencer was greeted at the Phillips Center with throngs of protestors chanting “go home Spencer” and “we don’t want your nazi hate,” and “nazi scum off our streets.” Governor Rick Scott responded by declaring a state of emergency in Alachua county. In an attempt to avoid violence, police divided anti-Spencer protestors from pro-Spencer protestors, keeping them 50 yards apart. Notwithstanding these efforts, a total of five injuries were reported, including one man who was punched in the face by an unknown assailant. After the protest, the President of the University of Florida, W. Kent Fuchs, addressed a letter to students condemning Mr. Spencer’s views as “abhorrent,” but stating that the school was powerless to prevent him from renting the Phillips Center. Fuchs later released a further message that advised students to speak out against Spencer’s “message of hate and racism,” and lamented the fact that the University was legally obligated to pay for the additional costs of security, totaling over $600k, as a result of Spencer’s “hate speech.”