White nationalist Richard Spencer may speak at University of Florida on Sept. 12

AP file photo.

A man at the center of a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va. might be speaking at the University of Florida next month.

UF President Kent Fuchs posted on Facebook Saturday that the National Policy Institute has asked the university to reserve space for its president, Richard Spencer, to speak on Sept. 12.

Spencer was supposed to speak at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville Saturday but the protests became unruly. One person was killed and dozens were injured.

Fuchs said the National Policy Institute is not affiliated with the university and that no group affiliated with the university is sponsoring the speech. He said the event is not finalized and still under discussion.

While he does not agree with Spencer's views, Fuchs said the university must uphold the First Amendment.

"For many in our community, including myself, this speaker’s presence would be deeply disturbing," Fuchs wrote. "What we’ve watched happen in Charlottesville, VA. in the last 24 hours, is deplorable. I again denounce all statements and symbols of hate. The University of Florida is a community of learners, educators and scholars. We encourage open and honest dialogue, and we strive to build an inclusive environment where hate is not welcome.

"While this speaker’s views do not align with our values as an institution, we must follow the law, upholding the First Amendment not to discriminate based on content and provide access to a public space."

Fuchs wrote university regulation says non-university groups may rent space on campus, provided they cover rental expenses and security costs, like all other third-party renters.

He said the university is developing a security plan for the potential event.

"Instead of allowing hateful speech to tear us down, I urge our campus community to join together, respect one another and promote positive speech, while allowing for differing opinions. These types of groups want media attention. I encourage our campus community to send a message of unity by not engaging with this group and giving them more media attention for their message of intolerance and hate," Fuchs wrote. "It is up to every student, faculty member, staff member, and myself to demonstrate our university values of respect and inclusion in all that we do. We have an opportunity to lead the way."

Spencer on Saturday told the Associated Press he blames police for the violence that erupted before and after the rally.

Spencer said that he “did not attempt to engage in any kind of violence. So the idea that I could be held responsible is absurd. It’s like blaming the fire department for a fire.”

He said that he was pepper-sprayed twice during the day, and that he recommended that people should disperse after the state of emergency was declared.

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