University of Florida protests conclude following Richard Spencer speech

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Within hours of Richard Spencer’s speech at the University of Florida, the campus began to return to its normal pace.

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Thursday night outside the Phillips Center, where Spencer delivered his speech, the police presence was drastically reduced. The campus was calm and quiet, and students said they felt safe again.

City, county and state law enforcement leaders praised the campus and community for not resorting to major violence, but several incidents were reported.

Two people were arrested for non-violent offenses. University officials confirmed five minor injuries which were treated on scene.

Protestors also say someone used pepper spray on people exiting Spencer’s speech.

Hundreds of law enforcement officers were called into Gainesville in case protests turned violent.

Overall, law enforcement officers say their security plans proved successful.

One freshman student, Tanner, got into the speech as a protestor. He said the protestors that got inside far outnumbered Spencer supporters.

He said he nearly missed the pepper spray upon exiting, but could taste it.

“We were let out first. As some of the supporters came out, We saw one instance of someone getting pepper sprayed. It was very aggressive, but I didn’t see anything more than that,” he said.

The majority of students avoided the protest area.

“We don’t want to give him the attention, you know? So, I didn’t do that and I just did my own thing. It was fairly calm and nice,” said student Alexa Dombrowski.

Student Kyle Harris did the same.

“I would have preferred for everybody just to stay away from it, but at the same time, it is nice to be like hey, this isn’t cool.”

Now, students hope things stay quiet as security remains in place through Friday.

“We showed what the University of Florida was about today. Im very proud of what we did,” Harris said.
 

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