Richard Spencer University of Florida Speech

Richard Spencer University of Florida Speech

Part of a series on Richard B. Spencer. [View Related Entries]

Updated Oct 22, 2017 at 03:51AM EDT by Y F.

Added Oct 20, 2017 at 03:52PM EDT by Matt.

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Overview

Richard Spencer University of Florida Speech refers to the protests, events and controversies surrounding an appearance by white supremacist and alt-right leader Richard Spencer's appearance at the University of Florida.

Background

In August 2017, following the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Va, the University of Florida blocked an event that featured white supremacist Richard Spencer from speaking.[2]

Two months later on October 10th, University of Florida President Kent Fuchs posted a video to YouTube stating that while he disagreed with Spencer's viewed, he was legally obligated to allow him to speak. In his statement, Fuchs urged students to avoid the event and challenge Spencer's view points.



"First, do not provide Mr. Spencer and his followers the spotlight they are seeking. They are intending to attract crowds and provoke a reaction in order to draw the media. I urge everyone to stay away from Mr. Spencer and his followers and the Phillips Center where he will speak and the media will be assembled on October 19. By shunning him and his followers we will block his attempt for further visibility.

Second, although I urge you to avoid the Spencer event, I ask that you not let Mr. Spencer’s message of hate and racism go unchallenged. Speak up for your values and the values of our university. Make it clear that messages of hate on our campus are contrary to those values. Mr. Spencer’s message is disproportionately hurtful to members of our Gator community who are targets of hate and violence simply because of their skin color, religion, culture, sexual orientation or beliefs. Those of us in the majority must speak up for those in the minority and make our voice of love and support heard."

On October 12th, Richard Spencer's white nationalist think tank, the National Policy Institute, posted on Facebook [1] that Spencer would speaking at the University of Florida in Gainesville on October 19th.


Facebook post by National Policy Institute announcing that Richard Spencer will be speaking at University of Florida in Gainsville on Oct 19th

Development

Leading up to the speech, on October 16th, Florida Governor Rick Scott declared a state of emergency. In his statement, Scott wrote, "We live in a country where everyone has the right to voice their opinion, however, we have zero tolerance for violence and public safety is always our number one priority. This executive order is an additional step to ensure that the University of Florida and the entire community is prepared so everyone can stay safe."[3]

Several days later, the Gainesville mayor Lauren Poe[4] said, "here’s no question that he is a terrorist leader and that his followers look to commit acts of terror to disrupt our community." Additionally, the University estimated that an additional $600,000 in security would be needed for the speech, which expected to attract large protests.[5]

The event was met with hundreds of protesters, as the campus was flooded with organizers and activists chanting "go home" as Spencer led his press conference.[6]

Arrests

Following the event, three men were arrested for allegedly approaching a car of counter protesters, shouting "hail Hitler" and firing a handgun while threatening to kill the passengers. Two others were arrested at the event, one for possession of a firearm on school property and another for resisting an officer without violence.[7]

Nazi Punch

During the event, a picture of a man punching a Nazi wearing swastikas on his shirt went viral. On October 19th, 2017, the official Getty Images Twitter tweeted the picture with the caption "A man wearing swastikas is punched at a protest against white nationalist." The post (shown below) received more than 3,700 retweets and 9,000 likes in 24 hours.


Tweet by Getty Images of a perfectly timed photo of a Nazi absorbing a punch to his face

The picture quickly went viral as people captioned the picture with references to the punching a Nazi debate. Comedian Jonah Ray Rodrigues tweeted, "Remember: punching a NAZI is never unprovoked. Because it’s an equal and opposite reaction to somebody being a NAZI." The tweet (shown below, left) received more than 580 retweets and 3,200 likes in 24 hours.

That day, Twitter user @nationalparke tweeted in reference to Getty's description, "'a man wearing swastikas' I feel like there is maybe a word for that." The tweet (shown below, right) received more than 14,000 retweets and 37,000 likes in 24 hours.


Tweets in support of the man with swastikas getting punched in the face Additional tweets confirming their agreement with punching a Nazi in the face

That day, the photo also appeared on the /r/pics subreddit. Redditor[14] technikally posted the picture, garnering more than 10,000 points (74% upvoted) and 5,900 comments in less than 24 hours. Redditor[15] thepanichand also posted the picture in the /r/beholdthemasterrace subreddit under the title "Warm welcome for Nazis in Gainesville." The post received more than 730 points (95% upvoted) and 100 comments in less than 24 hours.

Media Coverage

Several news outlets covered Spencer's speech and the protests to it, including CNN,[11] ABC,[7] The Los Angeles Times,[12] The Washington Post[13] and more. News outlets across the country also offered opinion pieces on the matter including USA Today,[16] The New York Times,[17] Tallahassee Democrat and many more.,18]

Search Interest

External References

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Recent Images 7 total


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