New York, NY, October 18, 2017 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) is coordinating with law enforcement and community leaders ahead of white supremacist Richard Spencer’s scheduled remarks at the University of Florida in Gainesville. The talk would be Spencer’s first on-campus appearance since leading and speaking at two white supremacist rallies in Charlottesville, Virginia.
A well-known white supremacist and leader of the alt-right, Spencer is interested in attracting young, educated people to his white nationalist ideology in an effort to grow the movement, according to ADL’s new online resource, “Richard Spencer: Five Things to Know.”
“Richard Spencer’s scheduled appearance at the University of Florida and other campuses is part of a concerted effort by white supremacists to recruit college students to build new support for their hateful and bigoted ideologies,” ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said. “It’s not lost on us that he wants to speak at the university with the largest population of Jewish students. We stand with the students and the Gainesville community in rejecting Spencer’s abhorrent beliefs. His vile rhetoric and radical beliefs belong in the darkest shadows, not in our bright public forums.”
ADL is in direct contact with university officials, community leaders and law enforcement and has shared information about Spencer and the National Policy Institute, the white supremacist organization he leads and one of the nation’s leading promoters of anti-Semitism and racism.
In advance of Thursday’s event, Gov. Rick Scott has declared a state of emergency in Alachua County and activated the state’s National Guard, which means that funds can be allocated quickly for law enforcement and security costs, which the university has estimated at as much as $500,000.
Gainesville is just the latest stop on Spencer’s planned tour of American college campuses. Since August 2017, Spencer has attempted to speak at public universities in Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Louisiana, Michigan, North Carolina and Texas.
“There’s ample reason to be concerned that white supremacists will be drawn to Spencer’s talk and come onto the campus,” said Sheri Zvi, ADL Florida Regional Director. “His past speeches have attracted a number of his fellow travelers who come to support him and promote Spencer’s brand of bigotry and hate.”
White supremacist groups have increasingly targeted college campuses over the past year and a half in an effort to recruit new followers. This has picked up in the past six weeks.
ADL’s Center on Extremism has counted 79 incidents of racist fliers, banners, or stickers being posted on college campuses since Sept. 1. This compares to only nine incidents in September and October of 2016. A total of 260 incidents have been recorded on 173 campuses in 40 states since September 2016.
Thirteen of the 260 white supremacist leafleting incidents occurred in Florida. Targeted Florida campuses include Florida Atlantic’s Boca Raton campus, Florida Gulf Coast University, Seminole State College, University of Central Florida, University of Florida, University of South Florida, and Valencia College.
At least 22 white supremacists from the state of Florida attended the August 12 Charlottesville rally, according to an analysis by ADL’s Center on Extremism, the largest contingent from any state.