October 18, 2017 — Sarasota, Florida
AJC is urging University of Florida students and others to boycott Richard Spencer’s visit to the Gainesville campus on Thursday.
“We must unequivocally condemn Richard Spencer’s hateful ideas in order to prevent his odious white supremacist views from entering normal political discourse solely by virtue of repetition in legitimate and official venues,” said Brian Lipton, Director of AJC’s West Coast Florida Region. “We commend University of Florida President Kent Fuchs and Florida Governor Rick Scott for taking essential precautionary steps to ensure safety.”
Concerns about possible violence during Spencer’s visit has led Governor Scott to declare a state of emergency, and to mobilize local and state law enforcement. “We live in a country where everyone has the right to voice their opinion; however, we have zero tolerance for violence and public safety is always our number one priority,” Scott said.
Spencer, who has been seeking to speak at campuses, was present in Charlottesville in August at the violent white supremacist and neo-Nazi rally at the University of Virginia that resulted in the car-ramming death of a protester.
The University of Florida initially denied Spencer’s request to speak at Gainesville last month, but then accepted a rescheduling of the event for October 19.
In a message to students, President Fuchs said, “The values of our universities are not shared by Mr. Spencer. Our campuses are places where people from all races, origins and religions are welcome and treated with love.” Fuchs called on students to deny Spencer the attention he seeks for his “message of hate” by staying away from the event.
“The First Amendment protects hate speech, but also empowers those of us who believe in the fundamental democratic values of the United States to peacefully oppose the purveyors of hatred,” said AJC’s Lipton.