Spokesman: Richard Spencer will speak at University of Florida 'either way'

Richard Spencer. (File)

A white nationalist group spokesman says Richard Spencer will speak on the University of Florida campus no matter what the school's president says.

Florida president Kent Fuchs rejected the group's request last month after the violence in Charlottesville, but Cameron Padgett, an organizer for the National Policy Institute, says they've retained legal counsel and plan to challenge the decision.

"Either way we are going to show up and talk and speak, whatever happens," Padgett said. "So September 12th, in the afternoon, we are going to be at the University of Florida."

Fuchs said Wednesday that the university is prepared to defend the decision.

"The university of Florida will vigorously defend our decision to deny the request on September 12th," UF spokeswoman Janine Sykes said. "Safety of our faculty, staff and students is of utmost importance to us."

Padgett rejected the notion that Spencer's presence is intended to provoke violence.

"Somebody speaking? That doesn't hurt anybody," Padgett said. "They can choose to agree or disagree on what they say ... It's just words. And the First Amendment is really clear."

He had choice words for Fuchs.

"The president of Florida, who i think should resign today, tomorrow he should put in his resignation letter," Padgett said. "He proved himself to be a follower instead of a leader. He basically just denied access to a public space that was available because of protesters ... and he's just like a little puppet basically."

The university released this statement Friday, after receiving a demand letter from Spencer's group:

“The university is committed to upholding the First Amendment right to free speech and civil discourse, and we have a history of hosting controversial speakers on campus to this end. We reaffirmed our decision to deny the National Policy Institute’s request, which was for a speaking event on campus Sept. 12, due to concerns about safety following the events in Charlottesville, Va. At this time, we have not been presented with a new request for a future date. However, should that occur, we will use the same careful deliberation and consideration of safety and security factors that we did previously and make that decision accordingly in order to meet our legal obligations."

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