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University of Florida students shut down white supremacist Richard Spencer

By Gage Lacharite |
October 19, 2017
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Gainesville, FL — Over 1000 University of Florida students and other activists from around the state gathered at the University of Florida here, Oct 19, to protest a speech by white supremacist Richard Spencer. In the runup to the event, UF president Fuchs dismissed demands that Spencer's event be canceled - in light of his white supremacist view. Fuchs argued that the best response to fascists is to ignore them. Florida governor Rick Scott declared a state of emergency, allowing the police to better prepare to repress anti-Nazi protesters.

Inside the event, hundreds of activists, outnumbering the very small fascist audience, disrupted Spencer’s speech for well over an hour with chants of, “Go home Richard Spencer” and “Richard Spencer you can’t hide, you support genocide.” During a Q&A session at the end of the event, a protester asked Spencer whether it hurt when he was punched in the face earlier this year.

Outside the event, hundreds more activists congregated around the barricades set up by police. As white supremacist speech attendees exited, the crowd pursued neo-nazis, skinheads and alt-right activists through the streets of UF shouting “Anytime, anyplace, punch a Nazi in the face.” Some of these Nazis attempted to stand against the crowd but were overpowered and escaped under the protection of the police.

“It’s inspiring seeing so many people gathered here to fight back against hate,” said Kylee Rena, a local high school student. Referencing UF President Fuchs she argued that “silence only enables hate.” Rena added that though this was only her second protest, she planned to continue fighting against racism and the far right.

“We’re not loud enough, we’re not angry enough,” said Reem Baitoon of Florida State University Students for Justice in Palestine. “If we want to get rid of people like Spencer we need to take action to prevent them from being able to spread their views.”

The protest was a rousing success, with Richard Spencer complaining that UF had failed in its attempt to prevent students from disrupting his event. UF spent over $500,000 on security for the event.