White supremacist Richard Spencer shouted down at Florida college speech

White nationalist Richard Spencer, who popularised the term "alt-right", speaks at the Curtis M. Phillips Centre for the Performing Arts. PHOTO: AFP
People react as white nationalist Richard Spencer, who popularised the term "alt-right", speaks. PHOTO: AFP
People react as white nationalist Richard Spencer, who popularised the term "alt-right", speaks. PHOTO: AFP

GAINESVILLE, United States (AFP) - Hundreds of protesters shouted down white supremacist leader Richard Spencer on Thursday (Oct 19) at a university in Florida, forcing him to leave the stage without delivering his speech.

Only around 30 supporters of the controversial white nationalist made it into the University of Florida auditorium at Gainesville, massively outnumbered by protesters who chanted "No more Spencer!"

Spencer, a leader of the so-called alt-right movement that includes white supremacists, neo-Nazis and supporters of the Ku Klux Klan, was one of the organisers of the August march in Charlottesville, Virginia, in which a far-right supporter drove his car into a crowd of demonstrators, killing a 32-year-old woman.

Fearing a repeat of clashes between far-right demonstrators and anti-fascist protesters, security was tight for Spencer's speech, with police flooding the streets and Florida governor Rick Scott declaring a state of emergency in the area.

As he stepped on to the stage, Spencer was greeted with a chorus of angry and profanity-laced jeers and chants, drowning out his voice.

"This is a great greeting," he said. "Thank you for the welcome. Are you ready to talk?"

The public stood up, raising their right hands into fists and chanting "No more Spencer! No more Spencer."

"Are you gonna keep this up the whole night?" Spencer said, describing himself as a "dissident intellectual".

"You sent your message! Why don't we have a conversation?" he said.

"So you don't believe in free speech at all, do you?

"You are cowardly trying to shut down a movement that is growing and it's going to stand up for white people," Spencer yelled at the crowd.

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