The University Of Florida Is The Latest School To Reject White Nationalist Richard Spencer
The University of Florida has denied a request to allow white nationalist Richard Spencer to speak on campus in September, citing security concerns.
The rejection marks Spencer’s second in three days by a public university.
University of Florida president W. Kent Fuchs announced the decision in a statement on Facebook on Wednesday.
“Amid serious concerns for safety, we have decided to deny the National Policy Institute’s request to rent event space at the University of Florida,” Fuchs says in the statement.
The National Policy Institute is a small think tank headquartered in Alexandria, Virginia which views itself as the vanguard of the white nationalist movement. Spencer is its president.
Fuchs, the University of Florida president, said school officials decided to reject Spencer “after assessing potential risks with campus, community, state and federal law enforcement officials following violent clashes in Charlottesville, Va., and continued calls online and in social media for similar violence in Gainesville such as those decreeing: ‘The Next Battlefield is in Florida.'”
On Saturday, white nationalist protester James Alex Fields allegedly plowed his grey Dodge Challenger through a large group of people on a pedestrian mall in Charlottesville, killing one woman, Heather Heyer, and injuring 19 others. (RELATED: Driver Who Plowed Into People In Charlottesville Identified As James Fields)
Fuchs added that he finds “the racist rhetoric of Richard Spencer and white nationalism repugnant and counter to everything the university and this nation stands for.”
“That said, the University of Florida remains unwaveringly dedicated to free speech and the spirit of public discourse,” Fuchs also said. “However, the First Amendment does not require a public institution to risk imminent violence to students and others.”
“The likelihood of violence and potential injury — not the words or ideas — has caused us to take this action.”
On Wednesday, Spencer retweeted a tweet by Evan McLaren, executive director of the National Policy Institute, criticizing the University of Florida’s decision.
— Evan McLaren (@EvanMcLaren) August 16, 2017
Texas A&M University cancelled Spencer’s “White Lives Matter” event on Monday, also citing security concerns. (RELATED: Texas A&M Cancels Richard Spencer’s ‘White Lives Matter’ Event)
The Texas A&M event had been scheduled to take place outdoors on Sept. 11 at Texas A&M/ The event organizer, Preston Wiginton, had sent a media notice titled “Today Charlottesville, Tomorrow Texas A&M,” according to a university statement.
“Linking the tragedy of Charlottesville with the Texas A&M event creates a major security risk on our campus,” school officials said. “Additionally, the daylong event would provide disruption to our class schedules and to student, faculty, and staff movement (both bus system and pedestrian).”
In December, Spencer spoke at Texas A&M.
“America, at the end of the day, belongs to white men,” the white nationalist leader said during that speech.
Spencer’s appearance at Texas A&M caused officials to chance a school policy about who can speak on campus, according to The Dallas Morning News.
In January, a mask-wearing man sucker-punched Spencer while Spencer was giving an interview on a Washington, D.C. sidewalk during the weekend of President Donald Trump’s inauguration. (RELATED: Alt-Right Leader Gets Sucker Punched During Inauguration Protests)
In February, Spencer was kicked out of the Conservative Political Action Conference after taking questions and conversing for almost an hour with surrounding reporters and attendees. (RELATED: White Nationalist Richard Spencer Booted From CPAC)
Spencer has said he rejects conservativism because conservatives refuse to represent only white interests, according to the Anti-Defamation League.