White nationalist Richard Spencer, challenged about the violence in Charlottesville, called the accused killer of Charlottesville counter protester Heather Heyer a “scapegoat” and claimed James Fields’ was “attacked.”
Chants broke out on the University of Florida campus in Gainesville during Spencer’s October 19 speech at the University of Florida. Nearly drowned out by chanting protesters, he also responded by calling protesters “shrieking morons.” In return, people in the audience called Spencer an idiot and ugly.
The Florida governor declared a state of emergency for Alachua County as fears of violence grew. You can see his comments for yourself here:
Protesters chanted against Spencer as the speech was about to begin. Spencer challenged the protesters by 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.”
Asked why he doesn’t take responsibility for the violence in Charlottesville, in which a counter protester was killed when a car rammed into her at a white nationalist rally, Spencer responded by calling the suspect a “scapegoat.”
“What happened with the death of Heather Heyer remains unclear,” Spencer said. “…Are they going to throw me into moral prison? Not only do I not call for violence, I have explicitly called for peace and for dialogue.”
He said that all he demands is that James Fields, the accused killer of Heyer, receive a fair trial. He alleged that Fields was “used as a scapegoat. His vehicle was attacked,” said Spencer. He said that Fields was attempting to escape. He said it was a “very ambiguous situation. He deserves justice.”
Witnesses and the police chief in Charlottesville called the attack deliberate when it occurred. Fields had posted on Facebook about Hitler and Nazis. The Chicago Tribune reported that Fields “preferred authoritarianism and the racial purity dogma of the Third Reich.”
According to CNN, Fields was charged with “second-degree murder, three counts of malicious wounding and failure to stop in an accident that resulted in death” in addition to “two more counts of malicious wounding and three counts of aggravated malicious wounding.” Fields is accused of driving his car into the crowd, killing Heyer, a paralegal, and wounding others.
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.”