(NBC News) Hundreds of protesters took to the streets in Gainesville, Florida ahead of a planned speech from white nationalist Richard Spencer Thursday.
They say he is spreading a message of hate and inciting violence similar to what we saw in Charlottesville, Virginia in August.
“Just trying to show solidarity with marginalized community members, and not allowing Richard Spencer to have a platform unopposed,” said student protestor Chad Chavira.
Spencer advocates for a white “ethno state” achieved through “peaceful ethnic cleansing.”
He says the speech is an important dialogue for the entire community, but it quickly turned into a sparring match with many in the audience.
“I am absolutely not a racist. I do believe that race is real, race matters, and race is the foundation of our identity,” said Spencer.
More than 500 police officers and the National Guard were at the ready.
University officials had originally denied Spencer’s request to speak, but relented when he threatened to sue.
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