White nationalist to defy UF ban and speak on campus, event organizer vows

White nationalist Richard Spencer, who lead the violent “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, intends to defy a decision by the University of Florida to keep him from speaking on campus next month, an event organizer said Wednesday.

Cameron Padgett, a 23-year-old University of Georgia finance student who has planned several events on university campuses across the country on Spencer’s behalf, and his lawyer, Gainesville-based first amendment specialist Gary Edinger, said they’re still negotiating with UF — but will go to court if necessary.

“I don’t think they want to go to court honestly, because they’ll lose,” he said, adding, “We’re still going to speak 100 percent.”

Earlier this month, UF President Kent Fuchs publicly denied the so-called “alt-right” leader’s request to speak on campus Sept. 12 because of “serious concerns for safety.” Spencer led the “Unite the Right” rally at the University of Virginia

But Padgett and Edinger said they intend to press ahead with Spencer’s appearance that day, despite the university’s decision. Edinger said he spoke to the university’s general counsel on Wednesday about “areas of flexibility” in UF’s decision, and plans to file a formal demand on the university as soon as Thursday for the right to speak on campus.

“We’re hoping they are going to change their mind,” Edinger said. “And if they do not we will address that in federal court.”

The university did not respond immediately to requests for comment.

A counter-protest — called “No Nazis at UF” on Facebook — also is still planned and more than 2,000 people have said they’re attending.

When he reached out to UF in the first place, Padgett said he signed a rental agreement for speaking rights at the Phillips Center on UF campus. The last thing to be discussed was security costs, he said, when UF suddenly pulled out.

He had expected to fight the university over the definition of “reasonable” security costs. He paid $40 per police officer per hour at Auburn University, where he successfully argued in court that the university violated his free speech by barring Spencer’s talk.

“Just because a lot of protesters are going to show up that’s not my fault,” he said. “I don’t have to pay for it.”

Spencer ended up speaking in Auburn after a court overruled Auburn’s decision. He was introduced at the event by Padgett, who said he spoke about his favorite topic — free speech.

In addition to UF, Padgett is attempting to organize speaking events for Richard Spencer at Penn State and Michigan State University, both of which have said no to the event. He said he wouldn’t call himself “alt-right,” the name Spencer coined for the group of white nationalists, white supremacists and far right political activists, and instead identifies as a libertarian.

He said he doesn’t understand why people connect the alt-right to the Nazi movement, as many did when the Charlottesville “Unite the Right” protesters sported swastikas and Hitler-themed clothing.

While eating dinner with Spencer, who has explicitly advocated for an all-white ethnostate achieved by “peaceful ethnic cleansing,” in Alexandria last week, Padgett said their meal totaled up to an $80 bill. They tipped their black waiter $30, Padgett said.

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“Would a Nazi do that?” he said.