University of Florida denies white nationalist’s request to speak on campus
Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images(GAINESVILLE, Fla.) — White nationalist Richard Spencer has been denied a request to rent space at the University of Florida to give a speech next month, according to a school statement.
The “likelihood of violence and potential injury – not the words or ideas – has caused us to take this action” to deny Spencer’s request for a Sept. 12 speaking engagement at the Gainesville
campus, the school president W. Kent Fuchs said in the statement released today.
The denial comes after an eruption of violence last weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia, another college town, where a white nationalist rally Spencer attended and promoted on social media
collapsed into chaos and resulted in the death of woman protesting the gathering that included white supremacists.
Spencer has said he is neither a racist nor a white supremacist, which is someone who believes that white people are superior to other races. Instead, under the label of “alt-right,” which Spencer
is credited with coining, white nationalists like him espouse “white separatist ideologies,” as defined by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), a legal advocacy organization that monitors
But it’s difficult for many critics, including the SPLC, to make a distinction.
“The term alt-right is really nothing more than a re-branding of white supremacy for the digital age,” Southern Poverty Law Center president Richard Cohen told ABC News in December. “I don’t think
anybody should be fooled by what it is at its core and that is white supremacy.”
Spencer, president of the National Policy Institute, which says it is a white nationalist organization “dedicated to the heritage, identity and future of people of European descent in the United
States,” has become a lightning rod for criticism since the election of Donald Trump.
A December 2016 event he held at Texas A&M was swarmed with protesters.
“We triggered the world,” Spencer told ABC News at the time. “I think it’s good to trigger people a little bit. When you get triggered it means that you’re shocked, you thought something that you
haven’t thought before. It means that you have an open mind and you can start to see the world differently.”
Fuchs, the University of Florida president, addressed Spencer’s ideology directly in his statement.
“I find the racist rhetoric of Richard Spencer and white nationalism repugnant and counter to everything the university and this nation stands for,” he wrote.
Spencer did not immediately respond today to ABC News’ request for comment.
He came to national attention when video surfaced of him at a Washington, D.C., conference in November shouting “Hail Trump, hail our people, hail victory,” as some members of the crowd raised
their hands in a Nazi salute.
Spencer said he yelled out “Hail Trump” in the “spirit of irony and exuberance.” He added that he saw the then-president-elect as someone who “sling-shotted our movement into fame.”
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