Richard Spencer

Texas men shouting Nazi slogans arrested after shooting at car in Gainesville


Tyler Tenbrink


Colton Fears


William Fears

Authorities in Florida breathed a sigh of relief after white nationalist Richard Spencer’s speech in Gainesville went off with just minor hiccups on Thursday.

The University of Florida avoided the types of confrontations on other campuses that prompted Gov. Rick Scott to issue a state of emergency in Alachua County earlier this month.

A $600,000 security effort resulted in “a mostly peaceful day” in Hogtown, according to a joint press release issued by various law enforcement agencies involved.

According to the press release, the speech resulted in “minimal acts of violence” and two arrests.

But those arrests didn’t include an ugly off-campus confrontation that wound up with three Texas men, two of them brothers, behind bars.

According to a Gainesville Police Department report issued this morning, the Texans — aged 28 to 30 — a violent argument, which took place shortly after Spencer’s speech ended, resulted in gunfire.

Tyler Tenbrink, 28, of Richmond, Texas; William Fears, 30, and his brother, 28-year-old Colton Fears, both of Passadena, Texas, are all currently in the Alachua County Jail on charges of attempted homicide. Tenbrink is a convicted felon and faces additional charges of possession of a firearm by convicted felon. The Fears brothers are being held on $1 million bond, and Tenbrink is on $3 million bond.

At least two of the three have shown connections to extremist groups, according to a press release issued by the GPD this morning.

Here’s what went down, according to the release:

Shortly before 5:30pm, it was reported that a silver Jeep stopped to argue with a group of protesters and began threatening, offering Nazi salutes and shouting chants about Hitler to the group that was near the bus stop. During the altercation, Tenbrink produced a handgun while the Fears brothers encouraged him to shoot at the victims. Tenbrink fired a single shot at the group which thankfully missed the group and struck a nearby building. The suspects then fled in a silver jeep.
One of the victims amazingly remained calm and was able to get the vehicle tag number and reported it immediately to law enforcement. Due to the Richard Spencer event, law enforcement resources from the local, state and Federal level were still operating in “Unified Command” which allowed local investigators and FBI analysts to quickly identify the vehicle and possible occupants. This information was immediately relayed to area law enforcement to look for the vehicle.

The Texans were nabbed later Thursday night on I-75 by an Alachua County deputy — with help from local police — on his way home from the Spencer event.

GPD spokesman Ben Tobias praised both the victim and the LEO handling of the situation.

“I am amazed that immediately after being shot at, a victim had the forethought to get the vehicle’s license number” Tobias said. “That key piece of information allowed officials from every level of multiple agencies to quickly identify and arrest these persons. This was an amazing team effort by everyone involved.”

Darnell said the incident and quick response “displays the true teamwork that went into yesterday’s Unified Command Center activation.”

“Information was quickly gathered and disseminated to all law enforcement partners involved and a potentially dangerous situation was averted quickly with the arrests,” she said.

UF Prez Fuchs: “Racist” Spencer “failed miserably”

20171019_161721(0)(1)Late last night, University of Florida President Kent Fuchs penned an op-ed for the school’s newspaper, The Alligator, declaring that white nationalist Richard Spencer “failed miserably to divide our community.”

Spencer was shouted down throughout his speech at the Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, where those who disagreed with his identity politics vastly outnumbered his supporters.

Gov. Rick Scott declared a state of emergency for Alachua County early in the week, and hundreds of law enforcement from around the state patrolled the campus yesterday. Security costs were estimated to be $600,000.


Scott, Fuchs and county Sheriff Sadie Darnell were among those who feared a reprisal of violent clashes where Spencer has previously appeared, such as a “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Va., in August. Spencer supporters carried tiki torches and chanted, “Jews will not replace us.”Heather Heyer was killed and dozens were injured after a car plowed into a group of counter-protestors.

But the anxiety leading up to the Gainesville event might have been higher than the tension on Thursday. A man wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with Nazi swastikas was punched. Two other men were arrested for non-violent offenses.

Fuchs praised how the university dealt with what he called Spencer’s message of hate.

“The whole world was watching, and the whole world saw how we responded to a hateful and despicable bully,” the university president wrote.

He also discussed why the university couldn’t ban Spencer from speaking, as many students and faculty members urged, or charge him the full $600,000 tab for security. (Spoiler alert: It’s because of a legal doctrine known as the “heckler’s veto”).

Fuchs also advised students to abandon the old-school protest methods that seemed to work pretty well yesterday.

“I argue old strategies of protest, which include shutting down Spencer and chasing his followers out of town, are exactly what white supremacists need to attract attention and followers.  For Spencer and his ilk, I believe the right strategy is to 1) shun the speaker, his followers and his events, and 2) as loud as possible, speak up with acts of inclusion and love and messages rejecting racism and white nationalism,” he wrote.

Read Fuchs’s full piece here.

White nationalist: I’m not a poo-poo head!

20171019_090816Richard Spencer, the controversial white nationalist who’s sparked a state of emergency and turned Hogtown into a powderkeg, says he doesn’t promote violence and isn’t a white supremacist.

Spencer, who coined the term “alternative right” years ago, is coming to the University of Florida this afternoon as another stop on a national recruitment effort targeting college students.

The National Policy Institute, which Spencer founded and leads, paid about $10,000 to rent the Phillips Center for the Performing Arts. The university first balked at Spencer’s appearance, but relented after deciding it would probably lose a lawsuit threatened by Spencer’s lawyer.

The university estimates costs for Spencer’s speech will be in the $500,000 range, further angering students, faculty and others who want the alt-right sensation to stay the heck away.


We spoke with Spencer’s chief lieutenant, Evan McLaren, this week.

“There’s nothing hateful about what Richard or myself or the National Policy Institute expresses,” McLaren said.

McLaren, the executive director of D.C.-based NPI, told us the first business purchase he made after going to work for Spencer this summer was a ballistics vest.

Read the full story here.

And here’s what Spencer had to say in a recent interview with the Culture Report.

Spencer denied that he’s a white supremacist, which he defined as “a white person who wants to rule over other races.”

“And I don’t want to do that,” so he’s not a white supremacist, Spencer said.

“White supremacist is basically a scare word. You might as well call me a poo-poo head or some other middle school-level insult. Because that’s all it is. It’s a way of suppressing speech. It’s a way of silencing someone even before the conversation begins, actually. So, yes, I get it a lot. It’s obvious bullshit. It’s the same thing as when a conservative would say, ‘he’s a communist,’ or ‘he’s a Marxist.’ Well, maybe that’s true in many cases. But that doesn’t mean that they don’t have something to offer,” he explained.

So, what is he?

“If I were to describe my ideology, my identity, it would be identitarian…It basically means that that question of identity is at the very heart of how I think of the world,” he said.

Are whites superior?

“The easiest thing for me to say would be, oh no, of course not. But look, of course, I would say, for me, yes. Speaking from my perspective, yes, I want to live in a white country,” he said, adding that he feels more at home in European countries than Asian or Hispanic nations.

“Every people thinks of itself as a chosen people on some level. As unique and special. Obviously Jews have taken that to the next level with their sense of chosenness,” he added.

Whites aren’t superior “from an objective, scientific sense,” Spencer said. Africans are better at “running and sprinting” and East Asians have higher IQs, he said.

“The key issue is really not superiority. It’s difference. I don’t want to lose that coherence to the white race,” he concluded.

But the Anti-Defamation League doesn’t buy Spencer’s insistence that’s he’s not a hate-monger and he’s not inciting violence.

“The fact is that Richard Spencer and his cohorts are white supremacists and their ultimate goal is to have a white ethno-state, and that’s based on the idea that different races should live separately. They’re very much opposed to diversity,” Marilyn Mayo, a director of the ADL’s Center on Extremism, told us this week. “They promote both racist and anti-Semitic ideas. Their message definitely is not a message of unity, but it is a hateful message.”

20171019_090854Regarding the clashes that have erupted at some of his speeches, Mayo said that Spencer doesn’t promote violence.

“They don’t have a history of promoting violence, but it’s clear that the ideas that they’re promoting are based on hateful views,” she said.

Both Spencer’s supporters and counter-protestors have come to the events prepared to engage in battle, Mayo noted.

“I think that Spencer himself has not promoted violence. But he has also brought white supremacists to these events who are there to protect him, and those people have a tendency towards violence,” she said.



White nationalist speech at UF: Should I stay or should I go?

Gov. Rick Scott, Attorney General Pam Bondi and University of Florida President Kent Fuchs are urging students, faculty and others to shun firebrand white nationalist Richard Spencer, who’s speaking at the college tomorrow.

But Florida Democrats issued a press release this morning saying they support peaceful protestors and it’s incumbent on those who disagree with Spencer to speak out.

“The Florida Democratic Party reiterates its support for all peaceful protesters who are standing up and speaking out,” Florida Democratic Party Chairman Stephen Bittel said in the release. “We have a moral obligation to refute hate and bigotry whenever they present themselves. White supremacy is an evil we cannot ignore. When leaders like our governor fail to challenge the President for embracing white supremacists, it becomes all the more urgent that the rest of us speak out—clearly, unequivocally, and loudly. We must let it be known that we reject hatred in all its forms.”
Responding to a request by Alachua County Sheriff Sadie Darnell, Scott on Monday declared a state of emergency for the county. The executive order allows for coordination between state and local law enforcement agencies. Darnell said her request wasn’t based on any heightened security risks, but was a preventative measure.

Speaking to reporters after a Cabinet meeting this morning, Bondi said she was praying “nothing happens” and urged students not to go to the event, while saying “there is no place for espousing these horrible, horrible views.”

Bondi said law enforcement will be well-prepared.

But, she added, “There is just no place right now for this, but you know with free speech, if he’s going to get up there and do it, then he’s going to do it. But we are going to make sure that our students and our citizens are protected.”

Spencer, the head of the National Policy Institute, was among the speakers at a “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Va., that turned deadly when a car plowed into a group of counter-protestors. Heather Heyer was killed and dozens of others were injured.
Clashes between Spencer supporters, some of whom are white supremacists and others who back his white separatist ideology, and “Antifa,” or anti-fascist, groups have taken place on other campuses where Spencer has spoken.

Alt-right speech in Hogtown: “It’s just words”

Tension continues to build in advance of alt-right activist Richard Spencer’s appearance at the University of Florida Thursday,.

Speaking to reporters after a Cabinet meeting this morning, Attorney General Pam Bondi said “there is no place for espousing these horrible, horrible views.”

Yesterday, Gov. Rick Scott declared a state of emergency in Alachua County. County Sheriff Sadie Darnell said she requested the emergency declaration so she could make sure she had the necessary resources, just in case.

Spencer was one of the key organizers of an August “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Va., that turned deadly when a car plowed into a group of counter-protestors. Heather Heyer, 31, was killed, and dozens were injured.

Appearances by Spencer in other college towns also sparked melees, causing concern by state and local officials who fear similar clashes in Hogtown.

Bondi defended Scott’s emergency declaration when asked if it might worsen an already tense situation.

“This guy’s out there espousing violence and hatred and anger and if we know that he’s going to be doing that, it’s our duty as a state … to have the resources available up front,” she said.

Spencer supporters point the finger at counter-protestors, who’ve pledged to show up en masse on Thursday, as the reason for the precautions.

Cameron Padgett, a Georgia State University student who helped organize Spencer’s speech in Gainesville, posted a video on Twitter yesterday, with an update about how to get tickets for the event at UF’s Phillips Center for the Performing Arts.

The center was originally supposed to distribute the tickets for the 2:30 speech, Padgett said.

But organizers quashed that after learning that tickets could have been turned in for free drinks, or even money, Padgett said in the video.

“It almost seems to me that people don’t want to hear Richard Spencer speak. You know, they’re just words. We’re not even there yet, in Gainesville, at all and they’re already enacting a state of emergency based on protestors already there,” Padgett said. “What’s the state of emergency being enacted on? It’s the protestors that are there at the event, or at the venue right now. So we’re there to peacefully show up and speak, you know, words only, and if you want to debate and engage in a conversation, then I welcome everybody to be there. I think it will be a good event. I have full faith in the police to do whatever they need to do to make sure that the speech is delivered properly and safely.”

The latest on court fight over white nationalist speech (or lack of it) at UF

Representatives of Richard Spencer and the National Policy Institute are trying to work with the University of Florida to finalize a speech in less than two weeks, but the prospects are grim, according to First Amendment lawyer Gary Edinger.

Edinger represents Spencer, NPI and Cameron Padgett, a Georgia State University student who’s involved in bringing Spencer, a leader in the “alt-right” movement, to the Gainesville campus.

The university rejected the request after a deadly outburst following a “Unite the Right” rally earlier this month in Charlottesville. One person died when a car plowed into a group of counter-protesters, and two Virginia state troopers also died in a helicopter crash while monitoring the situation.

Edinger said today he’s been in contact with the university in an attempt to avoid taking UF to court over Spencer’s speech.

In a letter to UF general counsel Amy Hass sent Thursday, Edinger asked if there was “any possibility of resolving this dispute short of Federal litigation.”

Edinger said his clients were willing to be flexible regarding the times and even possible date of the event.

But, he warned, “the university’s principal obligation in this regard is to ensure order so that the speech may go forward.”

In a telephone interview Thursday, Edinger remained skeptical that a lawsuit could be avoided.

“I have no idea if the university is actually interested in having this conversation. I’m interested in it. Although I litigate for living, it’s not a good way to solve problems,” the First Amendment lawyer said in a telephone interview.

Edinger acknowledged that “there are legitimate security concerns” about Spencer’s appearance, which was supposed to take place on Sept. 12.

But, he said, that doesn’t mean the university has the right to quash the speech.

“There are a range of possibilities here and what I’m trying to do is kind of the responsible thing and see if something can’t be worked out in advance and without litigation. I don’t know if that’s going to happen, but I’m giving it the old college try, if you’ll forgive the pun,” he said.

The likelihood of an amicable settlement seems to have dwindled, based on a memo distributed by University of Florida President Kent Fuchs yesterday:

“Dear Gator community:

Due to the threat of violence, the University of Florida denied two weeks ago a request by the National Policy Institute to rent space for a Sept. 12 event for white nationalist Richard Spencer.

We were informed late this afternoon that representatives of the organization have retained legal counsel and plan to pursue efforts to hold this event as originally requested.

No formal complaint has been filed at this time. We are prepared to vigorously defend our decision. The safety of our students, faculty and staff is our highest priority.

Our university police department has been working closely with local, state and federal agencies over the last few weeks and will continue to do so.

We understand some media organizations have been told there is a contract between the university and the National Policy Institute for the event. No contract was ever executed.

We are committed to keeping you updated as we receive new information. In addition, UF’s information line at 1-866-UF-FACTS (833-2287) may also be a resource.”

The violence in Charlottesville may have created security issues for UF, but his clients are not responsible for picking up the tab, Edinger said.

“The nature of speech is topical and we don’t have a long attention span in America. This is a topical thing right now so eyeballs are glued to television screens,” he said. My client is really the First Amendment. Politically and socially I have nothing in common with my clients but they have a right to speak.”


Tear down that monument!

Chris King, a Democrat who’s running for governor, left no doubt where he stands on the issue of Confederate monuments on public property.

King, a Winter Park businessman, wants them all gone.

“These monuments should be removed because we should not celebrate literal anti-American ideology or any ideology based on the oppression of any group of people,” King said in a statement. “And to those who say these monuments are needed to preserve our history, I say we don’t need memorials celebrating this dark time in our history. As we’ve seen in Charlottesville this weekend, we live with the legacy of this history every day.”

King issued the statement after a deadly clash in Charlottesville, Va., that left one person dead after a car plowed into a group of counterprotesters following a “Unite the Right” rally.

There’s a Confederate monument outside the state Capitol in Tallahassee, erected “to rescue from oblivion and perpetuate in the memory of succeeding generations the heroic patriotism of the men of Leon County who perished in the Civil War of 1861-1865,” according to the inscription.

A number of Florida cities, including Jacksonville, are now grappling with what to do with the Confederate statues. Workers in Gainesville began tearing down a monument Monday outside the Alachua County Courthouse.

That’s the same city where white nationalist Richard Spencer, who participated in the Charlottesville event, may speak at the University of Florida next month.

Here’s King’s full statement:

“It’s time for the orderly removal all the Confederate monuments in Florida. These monuments should be removed because we should not celebrate literal anti-American ideology or any ideology based on the oppression of any group of people. And to those who say these monuments are needed to preserve our history, I say we don’t need memorials celebrating this dark time in our history. As we’ve seen in Charlottesville this weekend, we live with the legacy of this history every day.

“It’s time for Florida to put its fealty and energy not toward monuments to a divided past, but toward a vision of the future that provides for common growth. Florida values diversity, but simply saying so understates the case. Florida’s economic engine is built on diversity. We are a state of many races, faiths and languages, each making our state a great place to live in, and each underpinning our economy. But our economic engine has been held back for far too long by the ghosts of the past.

“Removing Confederate monuments is not just the right thing to do for Florida values and its citizens, but the smart thing to do for Florida’s economy. In order to unleash Florida’s economic potential, and attract the jobs and investment we need to grow into the national leader we should be, it’s time to position Florida as a state with eyes set on the future.”

By Lloyd Dunkelberger.