News & Politics

The University of Florida Gives Neo-Nazi Richard Spencer Total Control Over Press Covering His Speech

The state of Florida will foot a huge bill for the security costs.

White supremacist Richard Spencer
Photo Credit: YouTube Screengrab

When white supremacist leader Richard Spencer speaks at the University of Florida on Thursday, it’s unknown what the reaction—or the level of violence—will be. While there has been coverage of the back-and-forth over whether this event will even occur, one thing is clear: press coverage of the speech will be strictly controlled.   

Guardian journalist Lois Beckett tweeted:

Beckett also tweeted an image of the email sent to press, with the line “all media credentialing decisions are made by NPI” highlighted.

NPI is the National Policy Institute, Spencer’s organization. The venue at the University of Florida was booked under the name NPI.

According to University of Florida spokesperson Janine Sikes, who spoke with Beckett, NPI has “rented the facility. It’s their event. It’s not our event.” Sikes also said, “It’s their event so they’re the ones that are allowing media in… that’s why they can have whomever they want to.”

This press vetting is not Spencer’s first attack on the media. Last November during his speech at the NPI conference, he used the phrase “Lügenpresse,” which writer Graeme Wood explained is a “Nazi-era smear against anti-Hitler media,” though “Spencer flubbed the pronunciation.”

A state of emergency was declared Monday by Florida Gov. Rick Scott. According to the Miami Herald, the state of emergency will “make mobilizing law enforcement and paying for security easier across agencies… [the] order also makes it easier for UF to be reimbursed for security costs.”

The security estimate for the event is $500,000, which will be covered by UF and the state of Florida. The university is charging NPI $10,564 for the venue cost and security inside.

Commenting on the state of emergency declaration, Spencer told the Tampa Bay Times it was “major overkill” to put him “in the same genre as hurricanes and invading armies.” He re-tweeted a gif depicting his face in the eye of a hurricane, with the caption, “Hurricane Spencer.”

Despite concerns over safety and campus tensions, classes have not been officially canceled for Thursday. There is a protest planned for Thursday hosted by the Facebook group “No Nazis at UF.”

While most of the coverage Thursday will focus on what occurs on campus in the form of protest and counter-protest, Spencer’s speech will undoubtedly further mobilize the so-called alt-right. During the speech last November when he garbled his German pronounciation, Spencer also said, “Hail Trump, hail our people, hail victory,” while those inside stood and gave Nazi salutes. 

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Emily C. Bell is a news writer at AlterNet.