Protests broke out on the University of Florida campus in Gainesville in advance of white national Richard Spencer’s October 19 UF speech. The speech started with Spencer and other people on stage verbally confronting chanting protesters, with Spencer labeling them “preschoolers” and “shrieking and grunting morons.” Another man on the stage called protesters “animals.”
Tensions were also high in advance of the speech as the Florida governor declared a state of emergency for Alachua County as fears of violence grew.
You can watch live video of the speech here:
However, the University of Florida wrote that the measure, “which came at the request of Alachua County Sheriff Sadie Darnell, is not in response to any specific heightened threat. It is a process that enables various law enforcement agencies to work together more efficiently. For example, agencies from multiple jurisdictions can be mobilized, if necessary, without bureaucratic delays.”
“You are speaking truth to Richard Spencer,” Spencer told the chanting crowd. “You are not speaking truth to power.”
UF also released its own video in advance of the speech.
In a statement explaining the decision to allow the Richard Spencer Speech to go ahead, UF explained, “Although UF leadership has denounced Spencer’s white supremacist rhetoric, the University, as a state entity, must allow the free expression of all viewpoints.”
“Despite not being invited by the University of Florida, National Policy Institute’s President Richard Spencer is scheduled to speak on October 19 on campus,” UF said.
According to the Miami Herald, “UF policy stipulates that any outside organization can rent space on campus. Spencer’s request was initially denied for what UF called safety concerns following the death of a counter-protester in Charlottesville, Virginia in September.”
University of Florida President W. Kent Fuchs said in a statement, “For the record, I don’t stand behind racist Richard Spencer. I stand with those who reject and condemn Spencer’s vile and despicable message.”
Asked about the governor’s state of emergency declaration, Richard Spencer told CNN before the speech that “he was flattered by the state of emergency declaration, which he said put him on par with ‘hurricanes and invading armies and zombie apocalypses.’”
According to CNN, Spencer has spoken at college campuses throughout the country, igniting protests, “including at Texas A&M in December and Alabama’s Auburn University in April. He also led a group of supporters carrying torches in May in Charlottesville in a display that critics said evoked images of the Ku Klux Klan.”
A counter-protester, Heather Heyer, was killed in Charlotte when she was struck by a car.
Protesters chanted against Spencer as the speech was about to begin. Spencer challenged the protesters saying, “you are not speaking. You are screaming and attempting to create a mob that is trying to shut down free speech… are you adults? Are you? Are you ready to think for yourself…you all look like immature preschoolers who aren’t ready for ideas that might get a little challenging.”
Another man on stage with Spencer said that students were acting like “animals” but have been “brainwashed” by “anti-white hate.”
A man was arrested with a firearm before the speech. You can read more about that arrest here: