UPDATE: 2:17 p.m. ET Aug. 16, 2017
On Wednesday, The University of Florida denied Richard Spencer’s group request to have him speak on September 12.
“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,” university president W. Kent Fuchs posted on Facebook.
When President Donald Trump finally got around to making a statement on Monday condemningwhite supremacy two days after the deadly protests in Charlottesville, Va., Richard B. Spencer, a prominent figure of the white nationalist movement, didn’t take him seriously.
“The statement today was more ‘kumbaya’ nonsense,” Spencer told reporters on Monday. “He sounded like a Sunday school teacher.”
“I don’t think that Donald Trump is a dumb person, and only a dumb person would take those lines seriously,”he said.
Spencer, whoattended last weekend’s rally in Charlottesville,is scheduled to share his beliefs with students at the University of Florida (UF) on Sept. 12.
According to theSun Sentinel, in preparation for Spencer’s appearance, university officials met Monday with the Gainesville Police Department, campus police and other law enforcement.
“This is a tentative event at this point,” UF spokeswoman Janine Sikes told The News Service of Florida. “Nothing has been signed. This is not a go yet.”
UF President W. Kent Fuchs said in amessageon Saturday, “Per university regulation 2.004, non-university groups, organizations and persons may rent space on campus, provided they cover rental expenses and security costs like all other third-party renters.”
Fuchs also added that Spencer’s organization is unaffiliated with the university, and “no student groups or other groups affiliated with the university are sponsoring this speech.”
“For many in our community, including myself, this speaker’s presence would be deeply disturbing,” Fuchs said.
Spencer was also scheduled to appear at a “White Lives Matter Rally” at Texas A&M University on Sept. 11. On Monday evening, the university cancelled the rally of white nationalists, neo-Nazis and other extremist groups “because of concerns about the safety of its students, faculty, staff and the public,” according to anews release.
The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) describes him as an “academic racist” who backs the creation of an Aryan homeland. Spencer, 39,leads the National Policy Institute, a white supremacist and nationalist think tank. In November, during his organization’s convention, he was filmed rejoicing in Trump’s election by shouting “Hail Trump! Hail our people! Hail victory!” He wasmet with Nazi salutes.
If you’re wondering the type of discussion Spencer will have with University of Florida students, he said the following during anews conferenceonMonday:
“We saw in Donald Trump someone who wasn’t a conservative He talked about immigration first and foremost. He was a nationalist. He used phrases like ‘America first.’ Donald Trump is not alt-right, but we were connected to him on a type of psychic level where Donald Trump was a nationalist. He was the first true authentic nationalist in my lifetime.”
The torch-lit protests at the University of Virginia, Spencer’s alma mater, on Friday night weren’t the first display of retro racism in Charlottesville.In May, Spencer led a protest in city’s Robert E. Lee Park against the removal of the Confederate statue.
“You’re seeing a display of torches at night, which is reminiscent of the KKK,” said Charlottesville Mayor Mike Signer.
Charlottesville Mayor Mike Signer said in astatementin May the event was “either profoundly ignorant or was designed to instill fear in our minority populations in a way that hearkens back to the days of the KKK.”
However, a carbon copy of the protest happened on Friday, expect this time it included violence and, ultimately, death.
A Hate Group’s Influence on Campus
On May 20, days beforeSecond Lt.Richard Collins III, 23, was to graduate from Bowie State University, a historically Black university in Maryland, Sean Urbanski, a University of Maryland student, murdered Collins as he waited for an Uber ride. The 22-year-old killer was part of the Alt-Reich Facebook group, which carries racially and sexually charged material.
The soldier lost his life in America’s ongoing battle with racism.
A grand juryindicted Urbankski formurder on July 13, and authorities are still investigating Collins’ death as a hate crime. Neo-Nazis actually recruited on the University of Maryland’s campus. SinceDecember, there have been at least five reported incidents of white nationalist posters being found on campus, which university police are investigating as hate bias incidents.
Richard Collins III was murdered on the University of Maryland’s College Park campus where American Vanguard distributed racist propaganda.
The posters led to the website of American Vanguard, a white supremacist group formed in 2016. Slogans used included “We have a right to exist” and “Defending your people is a social duty not an anti-social crime.”
Christian Picciolini, who renounced his ties to the neo-Nazi movement in 1996 when he was 22 years old, co-founded Life After Hate, a nonprofit that advocates for peace. In an interview with NPR, Picciolini said that a “young person who feels disenchanted, or disaffected”is especially vulnerable to hate group recruiters and their propaganda.
College campuses are great places to find impressionable youth.