Gainesville (United States) – Hundreds of protesters shouted down white supremacist leader Richard Spencer on Thursday at a university in Florida, forcing him to leave the stage without delivering his planned speech.
Officials were so fearful of disturbances that Governor Rick Scott declared a state of emergency ahead of the speech by Spencer, an organizer of a white supremacist rally that erupted in deadly violence in Charlottesville earlier this year.
Spencer has gained notoriety as a leader of the “alt-right” movement, a loose collection of white supremacist and neo-Nazi groups that staged the incendiary protest in Charlottesville, Virginia in August.
In Gainesville, streets surrounding the University of Florida were blocked off to traffic on Thursday, and classes were canceled at the Philips Center, where the Spencer attempted to speak.
Under the hashtag #TogetherUF, student leaders called for an online “virtual assembly” to counter people arriving to hear Spencer’s speech.
Spencer is “one of the leaders of the white nationalist movement and he coined the expression ‘the alt-right’ so he has a lot of influence,” Lecia Brooks, outreach director for the Southern Poverty Law Center, an NGO that monitors hate groups, told AFP.
The University of Florida agreed to host Spencer in the name of free speech, but said he was not invited to give the talk.