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White Nationalist Richard Spencer Shouted Down at University of Florida Speech

  • VOA News

Two supporters of white nationalist Richard Spencer clash with a crowd of protesters after Spencer spoke at the University of Florida in Gainesville, Oct. 19, 2017.

White separatist leader Richard Spencer gave up trying to speak Thursday at the University of Florida in Gainesville when protesters shouted him down.

"You are cowardly trying to shut down a movement that is growing and it’s going to stand up for white people," Spencer hollered as the crowd chanted "No more Spencer."

He accused the crowd of not believing in free speech and being unwilling to have a debate. They countered with shouts of "We don't want your Nazi hate."

FILE - In this Dec. 6, 2016 file photo, Richard Spencer, who leads a movement that mixes racism, white nationalism and populism, speaks at the Texas A&M University campus in College Station, Texas.
FILE - In this Dec. 6, 2016 file photo, Richard Spencer, who leads a movement that mixes racism, white nationalism and populism, speaks at the Texas A&M University campus in College Station, Texas.

Florida Governor Rick Scott declared a state of emergency for the entire county where the Gainesville campus is located. It was a precaution against the same kind of deadly violence between neo-Nazis and demonstrators that killed one person and injured at least 30 in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August.

"We live in a country where everyone has the right to voice their opinion," Scott said. "However, we have zero tolerance for violence and public safety is always our No. 1 priority."

Spencer supporters are few

Demonstrators far outnumbered Spencer's white nationalist supporters at the speech and only minor violence was reported.

Spencer, who calls himself a "dissident intellectual," is the leader of the so-called "alt-right" movement that gained global attention after President Donald Trump was elected last year.

Spencer was seen in a video celebrating the Trump victory in a Washington restaurant, throwing a Nazi salute and bellowing "Hail, Trump."

Extra security

The president condemned white supremacists and neo-Nazis after the Charlottesville violence. But his critics say it took him too long to repudiate their support.

The University of Florida in Gainesville is a public university and could not stop Spencer from speaking. But the school says it did not invite him there. School officials say they spent $600,000 for extra security for the speech.

Spencer's National Policy Institute paid about $10,000 to rent the hall.

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