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Nazi Speaks at University of Florida

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On October 19th, 2017, Richard Spencer -a white supremacist- spoke at the University of Florida. Controversy follows Richard Spencer wherever he goes, and his appearance at the University of Florida was no different. The underlying issue surrounding Spencer’s visit is “Why did the University of Florida allow Richard Spencer to speak there?”

America’s First Amendment rights are the pillars of democracy in this country. Freedom of speech protects all types of opinions (as long as it does not put the general public in danger), even of those of the most vile and hateful nature. Originally, the University of Florida had cancelled Spencer’s event, with President Kent Fuchs stating that “the likelihood of violence and potential injury — not the words or ideas — has caused us to take this action”. In response, Spencer threatened to take the University of Florida to court and sue them for abridging his First Amendment right of freedom of speech. Spencer stated that since UF is a publicly funded state university, they legally cannot decline him speaking. As a result of this, UF was forced to rent out a venue to Spencer for him to use.

Hours before Spencer’s speech, thousands of students and even residents of Gainesville gathered to protest against him. People were shouting chants such as “We don’t want your Nazi hate; we don’t want your KKK”. Fortunately, unlike as in Charlottesville, the protests did not result in any serious injuries or death –although three men were charged for opening fire at protesters. As Spencer took the stage at the Phillips Center, students charged the auditorium and shouted over Spencer as he spoke.

Not many showed up to the actual speech itself, with only a small group of 30 raising their hands when Spencer asked who agreed with his views.. The group of students in the auditorium mainly consisted of protesters who wanted to force Richard Spencer off the platform. Spencer began his speech by advocating for his white-nationalist think tank, The National Policy Institute. During his speech, he stated “America, at the end of the day, belongs to white men.” Spencer then began to espouse his views without success, while students began shouting him down and yelling “Go home, Spencer”. At around 4:15 P.M., the Gainesville Police Department stated that Richard Spencer had left campus and advised protesting groups to disperse.

Although Richard Spencer tried to espouse his views, he was generally not perceived the way he desired. Protesters made their voice heard, and showed that Nazism and white-supremacism are not welcomed at UF, or anywhere else in the Sunshine State. As the events of the day occured, America saw how unity can drown out the cries of hate.

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Nazi Speaks at University of Florida