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    UF will not allow white supremacist to speak on campus

    August 17, 2017
    By: Jack Strickland
    Gainesville

    The University of Florida will not allow a repeat on its campus of the weekend’s violence and tragedy that erupted at Charlottesville, Virginia and at the University of Virginia. That is, not if University of Florida President W. Kent Fuchs has anything to say about it.

    Dr. Fuchs has refused to rent space on campus to white nationalist Richard Spencer, who was scheduled to speak and hold a rally on the U of F campus on September 12.  Spencer was at Charlottesville last weekend and he and his group, the National Policy Institute, appeared to be at the epicenter of the white power demonstrations that turned violent.

    Spencer is the editor of Altright.com. On their podcasts Spencer claimed he and his organization planned the Charlottesville demonstrations which spewed racist and white power chants.

    Several fringe groups, including the Ku Klux Klan, Nazis, a group calling themselves the White Shirts, and other racist and anti-semitic groups participated in the demonstrations.  Several people were injured and one person was killed.

    The Southern Poverty Law center calls Spencer an “academic racist”. Spencer claims his objective is to “protect” the white race, but, denies being a racist. At Charlottesville, Spencer supporters claimed that Florida will be the next battleground state. They voiced delight at Florida’s “stand your ground” gun laws, claiming that if you feel intimidated by someone you can shoot and kill them with impunity.

    In his statement, Dr. Fuchs said, “I find the racist rhetoric of Richard Spencer and white nationalism repugnant and counter to everything the University of Florida stands for.” He said he and the university welcome a free exchange of ideas as guaranteed by the First Amendment. But, he said the safety of the students and community trump the free speech rights. There are indications the participants in the “demonstrations” in Virginia intended to bring a similar disturbance to the University of Florida.

    In his announcement Dr. Fuchs said, “The likelihood of violence and potential injury—not the words and ideas—has caused us to take this action. Denying university space is the safest and most responsible decision we can make.”

    Gainesville Mayor Lauren Poe supports Dr. Fuchs action. He said the proposed event was more about inciting violence and creating a disruption than a free exchange of ideas. 

    This may not be the end of the story. Spencer is expected to go to court to seek a court order to allow him to appear on campus.