Who is Richard Spencer and why is his visit considered an emergency?

President of National Policy Institute to speak at University of Florida

By Ethan Calloway - Anchor/reporter , Associated Press

GAINESVILLE, Fla. - It might seem shocking that one man's visit has sparked an emergency declaration from Florida's governor.

But shock seems to be what Richard Spencer does best.

Spencer, who doesn't like to be called a white supremacist, recently posted on his verified Twitter account: “Without racial cohesion, national unity is all but impossible.”

The president of the National Policy Institute, a think tank that promotes white nationalist views, is scheduled to speak Thursday on the campus of the University of Florida in Gainesville.

The speech prompted an executive order from Gov. Rick Scott, declaring an imminent “threat of potential emergency” in Alachua County.

The university has already said it expects to spend $500,000 on security for the event, and the governor is activating the Florida National Guard to help with security if it is needed.

Spencer, who is co-editor of AltRight.com, participated in a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August that led to deadly violence.

View timeline of Richard Spencer's public life

The rally was staged to protest the city's removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee, and turned violent when a car plowed into a crowd, killing a woman and injuring dozens of others. Two troopers monitoring the protest from above were also killed when their helicopter went down.

That violence was the reason UF cited for initially rejecting Spencer's request to speak on campus. The university later agreed to accommodate Spencer after his National Policy Institute threatened to sue the school.

University of Florida President Kent Fuchs earlier this month asked students to stay away from the campus event. He wrote in an email that Spencer and his group seek only "to provoke a reaction."

The 39-year-old advocates for what he calls a "peaceful ethnic cleansing," pushing for an all-white ethnic state in North America. 

His views against multiculturalism have made Spencer's name synonymous with the white supremacist movement, but he has said he considers himself an “identitarian.” That movement, which began in France, is a European ethnic nationalist movement described as part of the global alt-right.

Spencer was born in Boston and grew up in Dallas, where he attended an affluent private school, according to the Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights.

Spencer, who is married to Russian-born Nina Kouprianova, graduated from the University of Virginia in 2001. He earned a master's degree from the University of Chicago and then studied for a doctorate at Duke University before dropping out in 2007.

Spencer has been involved in several conservative publications and founded Radix Journal in 2012.

Spencer launched Altright.com earlier this year as a more “populist, big tent” channel for the ideas of the movement, according to an article in The Guardian.

News4Jax wrote to Spencer Tuesday morning through the AltRight.com website, requesting a comment or interview, but we have not heard back.

Copyright 2017 by WJXT News4Jax. The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.