Before the leader of the so-called Alt Right movement could even take the stage, the audience in Gainesville hurled the chants at Eli Spencer, the leader of White nationalist group Identity Europa. Spencer was on stage at the school’s Phillips Center speaking when the chanting broke out.
When Spencer got on stage, the crowd repeatedly chanted, “Go home, Spencer!” and reportedly blamed him for the deadly and violent events in Charlottesville, Virginia, this summer, where White nationalists converged to rally behind a Confederate monument there. In that instance, multiple cases of racist attacks occurred, including one of the White nationalists driving his car into a crowd and killing a woman.
At one point, Spencer was apparently drowned out by the protesters and demanded the opportunity to speak.
The scene outside of the Phillips Center was lively, too, according to reports, photos and video from the scene posted to social media. Students and other protesters marched in solidarity against Spencer’s appearance, which was granted by the University of Florida because of the White nationalist’s First Amendment rights. However, those rights were not respected when it came to freedom of the press, as members of the media were reportedly hand-picked by Spencer to cover the event.
Republican Florida Gov. Rock Scott declared a state of emergency and activated the National Guard ahead of the event as a precautionary move likely based on what transpired in Charlottesville. There were neither any immediate reports of violence nor arrests.