Hundreds of Texas A&M students protested on campus last night after Richard Spencer, a self-proclaimed white nationalist, made a controversial speech at the university Tuesday night. “At the end of the day, America belongs to white men,” he told 400 people who sat in on the lecture. In response to that single statement, students came out in hoards to show their disapproval through peaceful protesting.
Before his controversial speech, Spencer spoke with CNN and claimed that he was not a white supremacist, despite mentioning a Western civilization that “only white people can support.” He told reporters that the university’s negative reaction to his scheduled appearance showed “the power of the alt-right and the power of our ideas,” a sentiment that Aggie alum Preston Wiginton clearly agreed with.
Wiginton is the person responsible for bringing Spencer on-campus. Though he only knew of him through online circles, he wanted to bring Spencer to the school in order to spread his message about white marginalization. Because Texas A&M is a public university, permission for the event could not be denied by school administrators.
“I think [the United States] was at one time [a white nation],” Wiginton told CNN. “I think the reaction to Trump being elected, and the reaction with the alt-right being popular, is a reaction to it declining as a white nation.”
“Why would I want to see America become less white?” Wiginton added. “Why would I want to be displaced and marginalized?”
Spencer had recently been disowned by his former Texas prep school after he was caught on camera saying “hail Trump” while the crowd responded with a Nazi salute. Students had similar feelings when Spencer stepped on campus and made it known by walking through the school chanting “the whole world is watching” and “No Nazis, no KKK, no fascist USA!”
Those who attended the lecture had to make their way through the protesters, which was not an easy feat to conquer considering protesters allegedly threw rocks at Spencer’s supporters.
Eventually riot police made their presence known and barricaded the stairway, with several students reporting that police tried to “push protesters” out the door. Another student showed a video of a woman being dragged from the crowd and onto the floor by police. They then tied her hands behind her back with a plastic tie.
When accused of inciting violence by hecklers, Spencer adamantly denied the claims. “I’m inciting violence? I doubt that,” he told the audience, despite several heated moments between Spencer’s followers and school protesters following suit.
“There were two people there dressed up as clowns, and they were dancing around with their gay little signs,” Vincent Snyder, a 25-year-old supporter from Houston, told the Daily Beast. “There were minorities and commies getting pissed off and shouting.”
Despite those who supported him, Spencer’s “movement” was largely drowned out by those who opposed it, including the university’s president.
“I think these people represent something that is so antithetical to what I believe,” Texas A&M University President Michael K. Young told CNN. “I think their ideas are just simply reprehensible and abhorrent.”
However, he also noted that the right to free speech is important and must be acknowledged. To show solidarity, the university’s VP Amy Smith joined in on the “Aggies United” event at Kyle Field, where speakers addressed diversity while Spencer spoke nearby.
Twitter has since expressed mixed emotions:
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