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Who is Richard Spencer, and why is he in the news right now?

Richard Spencer is making headlines today. Why?
Richard Spencer is making headlines today. Why? AP

He’s commanded massive amounts of attention in the past, and again, white nationalist Richard Spencer is making headlines across the nation.

But why?

Spencer — president of the white nationalist think tank the National Policy Institute — is speaking at the University of Florida today, leading to a spike of tension between protesters and supporters, according to The Miami Herald.

In fact, Spencer’s speech is so divisive that Florida Gov. Rick Scott declared a state of emergency “to ensure that the University of Florida and the entire community is prepared so everyone can stay safe,” according to NPR.

And so far, according to the Miami Herald, Spencer hasn’t been greeted too kindly by many at the University of Florida, with hundreds of cops and protestors converging on the small city of Gainesville.

He was met with chants of “f--- you Spencer” after first walking out on the stage at around 2:50 p.m for his speech, the Herald reported.

“I love you too,” he reportedly responded, before continuing to talk over what the Herald described as “a heckling, booing crowd.”

According to CNN, Spencer advocates for an “awakening” of the white race, with the hopes of establishing an ethno-state for caucasian Americans.

Spencer said he hopes to achieve that goal with a “peaceful ethnic cleansing,” according to Vox News, and is largely known for chanting “Hail Trump! Hail our people! Hail victory!” shortly after President Donald Trump was elected last November.

“America was, until this last generation, a white country, designed for ourselves and our posterity,” he said at the speech given to other members of the so-called alt-right movement, according to Vox. “It is our creation and our inheritance, and it belongs to us.”

Video from The Atlantic of the event shows many people in the audience appearing to respond to Spencer with a Nazi salute.

Spencer also co-founded AltRight.com, a news site that offers commentary with a white nationalist perspective, in January 2017, according to the Anti-Defamation League. He was eventually kicked out of the Conservative Political Action Conference earlier this year, with CPAC spokesperson Ian Walters calling him “repugnant.”

He’s unsure if women should vote, saying he doesn’t “necessarily think that (women voting is) a great thing,” according to Newsweek. He also pondered the humanity of Jewish people, saying, "One wonders if these people are people at all, or instead soulless golem," according to the Telegraph.

Spencer’s appearance at the University of Florida marks the first time he has been on a college campus since the “Unite the Right” rally, which saw clashes between white supremacists and anti-racist protestors in Charlottesville, Virginia (home of the University of Virginia), in August, CNN reported.

The University of Florida spent around $500,000 on security for Spencer’s speech today, according to the Los Angeles Times, with police coming from all across the state with the hope of keeping the peace.

Earlier this morning, a bunch of now-debunked rumors were spreading at the University of Florida, according to the Miami Herald, including claims of an “armed Aryan Brotherhood militia” and a noose hanging on an on-campus tree.

Spencer, met with loud boos as he began his speech, called protesting students “a mob” that was “attempting to turn (their) academic community into a stifling place,” according to NBC News.

But despite the backlash to his appearance, Spencer reportedly said the events at the University of Florida today are more proof “that we are persevering,” according to NBC News.

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