University of Florida students hoping to empty the auditorium for white nationalist Richard Spencer’s speech and get free beer in the process are out of luck.
Gainesville brewer Alligator Brewing offered a popular deal to its patrons on Thursday: give it two tickets to the so-called “alt-right” leader’s speech at the University of Florida next week and it will give you a free draft beer.
“We unfortunately can’t stop him from bringing his hate to Gainesville,” the message on Facebook read. “But we can empty the room so his disgusting message goes unheard.”
The only problem with the much-lauded plan? Spencer knows about it.
“We’re going to have a system in place to combat that,” said Richard Spencer, who had seen the ubiquitous Facebook post himself.
The National Policy Institute, the Southern Poverty Center-designated hate group Spencer runs his operation from, is giving away the 800 free tickets in person at the Oct 19 event. “Volunteers” from the organization will give out tickets on a first-come, first-served basis.
Cameron Padgett, the 29-year-old Georgia graduate student organizing some of Spencer’s events, said the ticket distribution method was designed to “avoid the sabotage that was planned by people.”
Although the original rental contract between UF and NPI suggests the tickets should be distributed by the university, UF spokeswoman Janine Sikes said NPI chose to distribute the tickets itself.
“It is their event and the tickets are theirs to distribute,” she said. “There is no violation of policy.”
UF President Kent Fuchs, as well as multiple law enforcement agencies (and even Sen. Marco Rubio) have encouraged students to stay away from Spencer’s event — both for their own safety and to deny him an audience. Spencer is a noted racist who had openly advocated for a white ethnostate achieved via “peaceful ethnic cleansing.”
Spencer, who chose UF as his first stop on an unofficial campus tour, was not invited to the school by any student groups. He rented space on campus and threatened to sue the university when they balked on the grounds of security concerns, a front of mind issue after Spencer’s last major planned speaking event — the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville — ended with bloodshed and death.