June 21, 2018

White Supremacist Encounters 'Good Deed Marathon' at University of Florida

20 October 2017, 12:59 | Kristopher Drake

University of Florida shocked they can't stop racist speech

Florida brewery encourages boycott of speech by white nationalist Richard Spencer with free beer

The university was among a number of public schools that have refused to host Spencer, citing threats of violence similar to what took place in Charlottesville, where his torch-carrying followers, along with the Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazis, participated in an August 12 "Unite the Right" rally to protest the removal of a statue honoring Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.

UF President W. Kent Fuchs said Wednesday in an interview with The Associated Press that Spencer is "hijacking" public universities - which are compelled by the First Amendment to provide a speaking forum - and forcing taxpayers to pay the resulting security costs.

Andrew Anglin, the American blogger who runs the neo-Nazi Daily Stormer website, called on followers who are unable to attend Richard Spencer's upcoming speech in Florida to target Jewish and African-American institutions, the Anti-Defamation League said.

Many on campus came ready to confront Spencer and his supporters, while other struggled with the best way to respond.

More than 500 law enforcement officers have reported to the Gainesville campus before Thursday afternoon's event, and Gov. Rick Scott declared a state of emergency, CBS News correspondent Mark Strassmann reports.

Spencer, a co-editor, was originally denied a request to speak at UF.

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Shouting and booing from the protesters in the hall - which included plenty of empty space and a small contingent of his supporters in the first few rows - left Spencer unable to make a sustained speech.

The death in Charlottesville, home to the flagship campus of the University of Virginia, occurred as counter-protesters were dispersing. "We don't want your Nazi hate!" and "Let's go Gators" during his speech, frustrating the head of the National Policy Institute.

But not everyone at the event opposed Spencer's views.

"It's very tense and upsetting", Wes Li, a 20-year-old philosophy student, said of the speech. He said he agrees with about 75% of what Spencer says, but said he thinks Spencer sometimes "beats around the bush".

Scott, as well as other Florida political and civic leaders, had urged people to stay away from the event, rather than protesting. The tickets are free and available to the general public.

"The one thing that comes out of this, though, is it is prompting a great discussion around race and religion and the value of diversity of that on a university campus", Fuchs said.

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