Protesters, police fill UF campus for Spencer speech

National spotlight on Gainesville for the white supremacist rally with Richard Spencer

GAINESVILLE, Fla. --Thousands of people protested outside a theater at the University of Florida Thursday. That's where a speech was being given by white supremacist Richard Spencer.

But the protest didn't and there. Spencer's two-hour speech barely got off the ground. The first 45 minutes were spent trying to overcome people shouting him down. 

The Phillips Theater on the University of Florida campus was only about 2/3 full, as a lot of students got tickets but chose not to go inside. Of those who did attend Spencer's speech,  about 3/4 of them were there to confront him. And they did just that, chanting “Go home Spencer, go home Spencer, go home Spencer.”

You could hear them shouting and that sort of chanting went on for a solid 45 minutes.

PHOTOS FROM UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA DURING RICHARD SPENCER EVENT

Spencer came to the University of Florida, he said, to express his right to free speech. But it wasn’t much of a speech at all,  as the students and other protesters simply would not be silenced.

And that visibly frustrated Spencer. He even handed off the microphone to some of the other organizers, before lashing out at the crowd again in a condescending way and resorting to insults. 

“You're going to fail,” said Spencer, while he was on stage. “We are stronger than you, and you all know it. That's why you're ganging up here, like some sort of mob in order to prevent me from saying something. Do you not want to hear something?”

“All they hear is a bunch of shrieking and grunting morons,” he added.  “You have responded become a cartoonist caricature of what people say about the left. You're worse than what most people say about the left. You are attempting to prevent people who are here to speak from speaking.”

And to that end, on the way out, some people said even though they don’t agree with Spencer’s views that they wanted to hear what he had to say and that the protestors had made that difficult.

Eventually, Spencer did take a few questions from the crowd. One of them asked why he should not be held responsible for the death of Heather Heyer in Charlottesville. She was the counter-protester who was run over during that white supremacist rally in August,  organized by Spencer. But he said that was not his fault.

Spencer repeatedly thanked the University of Florida, which had to put $600,000 for security today. The president of the university went out of his way to tweet shortly thereafter saying the university does not back Spencer, nor anything he stands for. That they did this only out of legal obligation.  

 

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