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A spirit that is not afraid

Richard Spencer: Auburn will 'rue the day,' promises showdown

The controversial white nationalist has now promised a showdown with University officials over freedom of speech on public college campuses

White nationalist thinker Richard Spencer, who was set to speak on campus next week, in a phone interview with The Plainsman blasted the University's decision to cancel his event.

The controversial white nationalist has now promised a showdown with University officials over freedom of speech on public college campuses.

“They think they have shut this down but they haven’t,” Spencer said. “I will give a speech on their campus. It is a public place. I think Auburn University is naive and has totally misunderstood who I am if they think that I am going to politely back out of this. I will be there 100 percent.”

Spencer, who paid $700 to the University for rent and more for security with the Auburn Police Department, said he would have come to the University and would have "been civilized," had administrators not canceled his event. 

"What I'm going to do now is I'm going to make this into a massive event," Spencer said. "This is going to be a huge challenge to see whether we have free speech in the United States or whether we don't."

He rose to national prominence for being punched at an anti-Trump protest in January and has been criticized for his alt-right views, which are a combination of racism, white nationalism and populism.

Spencer, who serves as president and director of The National Policy Institute, a white nationalist think tank, has called for "peaceful ethnic cleansing" to halt the "deconstruction of European culture," according to The Atlantic.

Citing security and safety concerns — and the possibility of "civil unrest" — the University canceled his visit in a statement issued Friday afternoon.

"In consultation with law enforcement, Auburn canceled the Richard Spencer event scheduled for Tuesday evening based on legitimate concerns and credible evidence that it will jeopardize the safety of students, faculty, staff and visitors," a University spokesperson said in a statement.

Spencer said the University gave in to "heckler's vetoes" and threats of violence from those who disagree with him.

"I'm not going to allow that to happen," Spencer said. "Auburn is going to rue the day that they made this total bullsh*t decision. I will not back down. I will be there. This is going to be so much bigger than they ever imagined."

On Twitter, Spencer said he would be "flying people to Auburn and purchasing safety gear." Spencer told The Plainsman they would be "people to protect me and the activists."

Spencer's booking was canceled because of an assessment by the Auburn Police Division.

"Based on an assessment of possible civil unrest and criminal activity during a requested event, it is the opinion of the Auburn Police Division that allowing Mr. Richard Spencer to proceed with his appearance at Foy Hall on April 22 would pose a real threat to public safety," police said. "We believe Auburn University’s decision to keep students and others safe is appropriate at this juncture."

Another alt-right leader, Milo Yiannopoulos, spoke on Auburn's campus in October 2016 and the event was peaceful. But a few months later, a Yiannopoulos event on the campus of Berkley resulted in riots and violence.

"What I've heard is there are 'credible threats' and someone told me there was chemical weapons threat, which just strikes me as bizarre," Spencer said. "I think it's a combination of cowardliness and naiveté."

Police would not confirm whether there were any credible threats against the University.

"I'm not going to get into any of the specifics about the intelligence that we received," said Assistant Police Chief Will Matthews. "I can just tell you that our assessment was passed on to the University to make an informed decision."

The Montgomery-based Southern Poverty Law Center, a legal center focusing on civil rights litigation and advocacy against white supremacist groups, is calling for students to ignore, not protest, Richard Spencer's visit to campus next week.

"We've talked to some students who are organizing counter-protests or are planning to go and confront him and such," said Lecia Brooks, outreach director for the SPLC. "We highly recommend against that."

The SPLC said confrontation is what Spencer wants.