The Denver Post
Protesters drown out Spencer
GAINESVILLE, FLA.» Audience members began heckling and chanting Thursday at a speech by white nationalist Richard Spencer, hoping to drown him out during an appearance at the University of Florida that sparked protests and intense security.
Spencer struggled to deliver his speech, but was overwhelmed by shouting and boos. At one point he said, “You know that what I am saying here will change the world.” At another point, he called the audience a mob.
People chanted, “Black lives matter!” and “Go home, Spencer!”
“Are you adults?” Spencer asked at one point. “It doesn’t look like it.”
The public university was expected to spend more than $600,000 on security for the event. More than 500 law enforcement officers were deployed, a state of emergency was declared and many students avoided campus.
With an intense police presence — snipers were positioned on the rooftops of nearby buildings, hundreds of uniformed state troopers stood at attention behind barricades — the protest outside was peaceful.
The event was Spencer’s first public speech on a college campus since he led torch-bearing followers through the University of Virginia in August, the start of a weekend of clashes between white nationalists and white supremacists and counterprotesters that turned deadly in Charlottesville, Va., the next day.
Spencer’s efforts to speak at UF have been closely watched, and bitterly debated — a sign not only of how raw the tensions over race and culture are in this country now, but of the intensity of the fight over free speech on college campuses.
Before his speech, Spencer answered questions at an often-contentious news conference. Asked whether he was a racist, he said he was not a racist in a “cartoonish” sense but that “Yes, race is real, race matters and race is the foundation of identity.”
Eight-hundred tickets were handed out for the event but a theater manager said there were about 400 people inside, including media.