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Thursday, February 25, 2021

UF, Gainesville react to Richard Spencer confirmation

<p>Richard Spencer</p>

Richard Spencer

About two weeks before white supremacist Richard Spencer is set to speak at UF, local anti-fascist protesters spoke out against Spencer’s ideals and those who work with him.

About 15 people gathered Friday afternoon to protest at the law office of Gary Edinger, a Gainesville-based attorney who represented Spencer’s group, the National Policy Institute, according to the Orlando Sentinel. Protesters, who were members of Gainesville Antifascists, held signs saying, “Fight Fascism” and “No Nazis at UF.”

Al Gadze, a member of the group, said Edinger should not have represented someone with Spencer’s ideals.

“No one bullied (Edinger) into representing Richard Spencer,” Gadze said. “And our primary disagreement is with Richard Spencer, who is a self-declared national socialist, which the shortened term is Nazi.”

Gadze said UF’s response to Spencer was weak, and UF President Kent Fuchs chose to stick with his paycheck, which is $860,000 a year, instead of morality.

“I think President Fuchs suffers from moral dwarfism,” the 46-year-old said.

In various emails to UF students, Fuchs denounced Spencer and said his ideals do not reflect UF’s values.

Spencer will pay $10,564 to rent space in the Phillips Center for the Performing Arts. UF and other groups, like University Police and Gainesville Police, will spend about $500,000 on security, according to Alligator archives.

Gene Anderson, a 54-year-old reverend, was surprised about how expensive security would be. He said Spencer’s ideas, and the ideas of other white supremacists, are evil.

“I almost feel like having to explain why they are wrong shouldn’t be necessary,” he said. “Sometimes wrong is wrong.”

Student group No Nazis at UF plans to hold protests ahead and during Spencer’s speech at the Phillips Center on Oct. 19.

The student group is organizing a march from the intersection of Southwest 34th Street and Southwest 20th Avenue to the Phillips Center at noon the day of Spencer’s visit, said a spokesperson from No Nazis at UF, who asked to remain anonymous for their safety.

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The demonstration is expected to be split into a red zone and a green zone. The red zone is expected to be where protesters will have close contact with confrontation and the green zone will be where they will not have close contact.

“There will be lines of people at the front and on the sides (of the march) as well that will likely be the red zone. The green zone will likely be the inside and the back,” the spokesperson said.  

No Nazis at UF will host a sign-making event at the Civic Media Center, located at 433 S. Main St., on Saturday at 1 p.m. in preparation for the day of Spencer’s speech. The student group is also planning a teach-in on free speech. A date has yet to be set for this event.

No Nazis at UF also launched an online petition, which received 1,419 signatures, as of press time, with student groups Chispas and Young Democratic Socialists of America.

“Its goal is to put more pressure on Fuchs and the Board of Trustees to understand that this is something that is not supported by anyone really,” the spokesperson said.

Bianca Gavaller felt frustrated when she heard Spencer was coming to UF. She said his white supremacist views don’t sit well with her.

Gallaver, a 19-year-old UF psychology sophomore, said she feels it’s his right to speak somewhere, as long as it’s not at the university. “I think he has the right to speak literally anywhere he wants to,” Gavaller said. “But because (UF’s) an academic institution, then I don’t think he should be allowed here.”

Gavaller plans on protesting, despite safety concerns.

“The need to protest would probably outweigh the fear of (white nationalists) and what they would do,” she said.

Richard Spencer

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