Confrontation and tension filled MSC 2300 as Richard Spencer, white supremacist and creator of the term “alt-right” walked onto the stage to the sound of applause, boos, whoops and hisses.
Spencer was invited to speak at the university by Preston Wiginton, a former student and white supremacist. In recent weeks, Spencer’s scheduled event received a largely negative response from the Texas A&M community, with several protests and events planned in opposition. Aggies United, sponsored by the university and endorsed by A&M President Michael Young, hosted several guests including Ben Rector, Trevor Knight and Reginald Stuckey to counter Spencer’s speech.
Protestors and people in support of Spencer surrounded the MSC and Rudder Tower. The University Police Department, College Station Police Department, Bryan Police Department and state troopers attended all events. According to Wiginton, between $3,000 and $3,500 was spent on security for Spencer.
William Fears, an attendee of the event in support of Spencer, said he wanted to hear what Spencer had to say.
“He’s touched on some topics I thought were interesting before. Not a total Richard Spencer guy, I’ve seen a videos and some of his videos,” Fears said. “He’s pro-white representation in the west. I feel like we need a little bit more representation.”
Freshman Chibby Imo said he attended the speech to see if Spencer would be able to handle a crowd with non-white people, considering Imo had only seen speeches where the attendees were only white, such as his speech at the National Policy Institute convention.
“Tonight I’m interested in how he’s going to address the crowd knowing that there’s more colored people attending the event than there were at his previous event,” Imo said. “I’m interested to see how he’s going to address the crowd in general.”
As Spencer began to speak, people in the crowd began to cheer as others booed and hissed. Spencer joked about the hissing being a sign of affection as he began his speech. He thanked the police for security and Wiginton for bringing him to the university. He than began to describe the behavior of the “alt-right.”
“We don’t allow other people to tell us what we can joke about. We don’t play by their rules. We can be fun, we can be outlandish and we will never stop,” Spencer said. “It kind of evolved with me, in a way. After I dropped out of graduate school, I worked in the anti-war conservative movement. I wanted to oppose George W. Bush’s agenda, but I wanted to do it from a right-wing perspective.”
Throughout Spencer’s speech, he was heckled by the crowd. A woman dressed in a clown costume crossed in front of the stage several times with signs that were puns on phrases like “white guilt.” Spencer responded by making fun of her weight.
During the speech, Spencer made fun of people with mental disabilities and other members of the audience. His supporters laughed while his dissenters booed.
Twice during the speech, attendees with opposing views on the event showed signs of potential altercations, both sides yelling at each other and putting hands on each other. Several attendees were escorted out of the room by police and security. At one point, one of Spencer’s bodyguards tried to take the microphone out of a student’s hand during the Q&A session.
During the Q&A session, Spencer was asked questions by supporters, dissenters and people who wanted to question his ideas. One student asked Spencer to sign his picture of Donald Trump, while Fears asked him out for a drink afterwards.
A student asked Spencer about his thoughts on the beginnings of America.
“How can you say no one else would achieve what whites did when you committed genocide to the population currently living there?” the student said.
Spencer responded by saying that every other race did the same thing.
“Every other race engaged in mass murder and slavery and colonization. White people are just really, really damn good at it,” Spencer said. “I’m not going to claim that history isn’t a slaughter bench because it is.”
One student compared herself to Spencer’s mother, demanding that he respect her during a question and said that black people are the reason that he is civilized.
“Who civilized you? Who taught you your math math, science and philosophy so you would be able to function like a regular human?” the student said. “I would also like to know how whatever great country will get by without black people, Hispanics and Muslims.”
Richard responded with a counter argument.
“Taking your afrocentric logic, I guess you’re begging the question: Who civilized you? Who civilized Europe? We civilized ourselves,” Spencer said.
As the presentation wrapped up, Preston was escorted out of the room at 9 p.m. although he asked for more time. No one was allowed back into the MSC and everyone — protesters and attendees included — was escorted out.