Richard Spencer, white nationalist and President of the National Policy Institute, held a speaking event at the University of Florida on Thursday, October 19 from 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. in the Phillips Center for the Performing Arts.
On Thursday, protesters gathered around the University of Florida to protest Richard Spencer's message. Law enforcement officials and UF security ramped up security around the area to make sure the protests do not turn violent.
An armed man with a press pass was detained Thursday before the event began. The man, who did not give his name, said he has all the necessary permits and was hired by Fox News for armed security for station WFOX in Jacksonville. Read more here.
As Richard Spencer took the stage at the Phillips Center of the Performing Arts he was greeted by many protesters in the audience chanting "Go home Spencer" in an attempt to drown out the white nationalist. He spent much of his time on stage asking the crowd to let him speak and telling them they were attempting to bring a mob.
The Gainesville Police Department posted a message on its Facebook page Wednesday, writing, "For months, GPD has been preparing a comprehensive safety and security plan for this week."
Earlier this week, Governor Rick Scott declared a state of emergency ahead of Spencer’s speaking event, saying that a “threat of a potential emergency is imminent” in Alachua Couny in North Florida.
Spencer participated in a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, which led to deadly violence in August.
Originally, Richard Spencer was scheduled to speak at the University in September, however the school denied the event due to threats and the proximity to the recent violence in Charlottesville. The event was moved to October to give planners additional time to make security arrangements for the controversial speaker’s event.
QUICK FACTS ABOUT THE SPEECH:
- Who is Richard Spencer? He is the President of the National Policy Institute and a known white nationalist. He is credited for creating the term “alternative right” (alt-right) and he is the American editor of altright.com.
- Richard Spencer will speak from 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
- The University of Florida is not sponsoring the event and UF is not hosting Richard Spencer.
- The National Policy Institute is paying $10,564 to rent the facility and for security within the venue.
- The University is paying more than $500,000 to enhance security on campus.
- The event organizer has decided to distribute its own tickets in lieu of using the box office at the Phillips Center.
- Classes on campus will remain on schedule. Some classes could be canceled due to proximity to the event including Fifield Hall, Entomology, Microbiology and the IFAS complex of buildings south of Hull Road.
- @UFAlert will post information about the event
- The state of emergency order allows local law enforcement officials to work with state and other agencies to keep the peace during Spencer's speech. It also activates the Florida National Guard to help, if needed.
- The following items are prohibited at the event:
- Weapons, firearms or simulated firearms, tasers, knives, sharp objects
- Lighters, matches, torches or open flame
- Any athletic equipment or other items which could be used as a weapon
- Masks of any kind, goggles, bandanas/scarfs, neck gaiters
- Flag Poles, bats, clubs, sticks (including sticks on signs)
- Aerosol/pressurized cans, mace
- Chains, padlocks, bicycle locks
- Backpacks, bags, purses, clutches
- Signs made of anything other than cloth, paper, foam core, cardboard
- Cans, metal or glass containers, premixed beverages or alcoholic beverages
- No water bottles of any kind
- Pop-up tents, canopies or hammocks
- Wagons or pull carts
- Drones or other unmanned aircraft systems
- Pets (excluding ADA service animals)
- Grills, propane tanks
- Bicycles, scooters, skateboards
- Tobacco products of any kind
- Laser pointers
- Water balloons
- Megaphones or other amplified sound devices
- Any other items that campus police determine pose a risk to safety or a disruption of classes or vehicular or pedestrian traffic
- Campus road closures at 8 a.m.:
- Hull Road between SW 34th Street and Museum Road
- Bledsoe Drive between Radio Road and Hull Road
- Surge Area Drive between Natural Area Drive and Archer Road
- Natural Area Drive between Hull Road and the Performing Arts Center
- City road closure 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.:
- SW 34th Street between SW 2nd Avenue and SW 20th Avenue
- Information lines:
- 311: For general information
- 1-866 UF FACTS: For information specific to UF or faculty, staff or students
Follow along with our reporters in Gainesville:
On October 10, 2017 President Kent Fuchs released the following message regarding the speech:
Dear UF community,
Over the past several months our nation’s great public research universities have increasingly become the targets of individuals and groups who intend to gain national publicity for their messages of racism and hate by inciting protest, which has led to violence. We have watched this occur at the University of Virginia and the University of California, Berkeley. Now, one of these individuals, Richard Spencer, a white nationalist from the National Policy Institute, and his followers intend to do the same here at the University of Florida on Thursday, October 19.
The values of our universities are not shared by Mr. Spencer, the National Policy Institute or his followers. Our campuses are places where people from all races, origins and religions are valued equally, welcomed and treated with love, not hate. Our mission is to engage in the world’s preeminent scholarship and education for the public good, not to sow lies, discord and violence.
No one at our university invited Mr. Spencer, nor is anyone at UF sponsoring this event. UF has been clear and consistent in its denunciation of all hate speech and racism, and in particular the racist speech and white-nationalist values of Mr. Spencer. I personally find the doctrine of white supremacy abhorrent and denounce all forms of racism and hate.
If you are like me, I expect you are surprised and even shocked to learn that UF is required by law to allow Mr. Spencer to speak his racist views on our campus, and that we are not allowed by law to bill him for the full costs of keeping our campus safe, which exceed more than a half million dollars. We have prepared a Q&A to answer the numerous questions and misperceptions around Mr. Spencer and his event. You will find a link at freespeech.ufl.edu, which I encourage you to review.
I urge our community to do two things:
First, do not provide Mr. Spencer and his followers the spotlight they are seeking. They are intending to attract crowds and provoke a reaction in order to draw the media. I urge everyone to stay away from Mr. Spencer and his followers and the Phillips Center where he will speak and the media will be assembled on October 19. By shunning him and his followers we will block his attempt for further visibility.
Second, although I urge you to avoid the Spencer event, I ask that you not let Mr. Spencer’s message of hate and racism go unchallenged. Speak up for your values and the values of our university. Make it clear that messages of hate on our campus are contrary to those values. Mr. Spencer’s message is disproportionately hurtful to members of our Gator community who are targets of hate and violence simply because of their skin color, religion, culture, sexual orientation or beliefs. Those of us in the majority must speak up for those in the minority and make our voice of love and support heard.
Our student leaders planned over the next several weeks a series of events, tagged #TogetherUF, promoting dialogue, education and the embrace of our shared humanity. The first event, set for Wednesday, October 11, is a panel titled, “A Conversation on the First Amendment” in the Rion Ballroom of the Reitz Union from 5 to 6:30 p.m. I plan to be there.
Members of the Gator family please be understanding, caring and supportive– taking care of yourselves and each other – particularly in the next few weeks. As one of our nation’s great public research universities, with values that are contrary to all that Mr. Spencer represents, we refuse to be defined by this event. We will overcome this external threat to our university and our values. We will become an even stronger community and an even greater university.
University of Florida