White nationalist Richard Spencer will fight to speak at University of Florida

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White nationalist Richard Spencer still intends to speak at the University of Florida next month and will to go to court if necessary to get that opportunity. That’s despite the fact that the university denied a request for Spencer to speak at the Gainesville campus earlier this month, citing  “serious concerns for campus safety.”

The Miami Herald reported Wednesday that Cameron Padgett, a 23-year-old Georgia State University 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 they don’t get their way.

 UF Present Kent Fuchs emailed students, faculty and staff on Wednesday to inform them that a lawsuit come be forthcoming.

“No formal complaint has been filed at this time,” Fuchs wrote.”We are prepared to vigorously defend our decision. The safety of our students, faculty and staff is our highest priority.”

In making his decision to ban Spencer from speaking on the UF campus earlier this month, Fuchs said that while he found Spencer’s “racist rhetoric and white nationalism repugnant and counter to everything the university and this nation stands for,” he was denying him the opportunity to speak on the campus because of the concerns of violence, not ideology.

Earlier Wednesday, University of North Carolina Chancellor Carol Folt declined a request from the National Policy Institute to rent a space for Spencer to speak on the Chapel Hill campus, citing safety concerns

Here is the letter from President Fuchs:

Aug. 30, 2017

Dear Gator community:

Due to the threat of violence, the University of Florida denied two weeks ago a request by the National Policy Institute to rent space for a Sept. 12 event for white nationalist Richard Spencer.

We were informed late this afternoon that representatives of the organization have retained legal counsel and plan to pursue efforts to hold this event as originally requested.

No formal complaint has been filed at this time. We are prepared to vigorously defend our decision. The safety of our students, faculty and staff is our highest priority.

Our university police department has been working closely with local, state and federal agencies over the last few weeks and will continue to do so.

We understand some media organizations have been told there is a contract between the university and the National Policy Institute for the event. No contract was ever executed.

We are committed to keeping you updated as we receive new information. In addition, UF’s information line at 1-866-UF-FACTS (833-2287) may also be a resource.

Warm Regards,

W. Kent Fuchs
President
University of Florida

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Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served as five years as the political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. He also was the assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley. He's a San Francisco native who has now lived in Tampa for 15 years and can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.