Press Release

Union Leaders on Speech by Nazi Richard Spencer at University of Florida

For Release: 

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Contact:

Andrew Crook
o: 202-393-8637 | c: 607-280-6603
acrook@aft.org

GAINESVILLE, FL—Joint statement by American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten and United Faculty of Florida–University of Florida President Steve Kirn condemning today’s speech by white supremacist Richard Spencer at the University of Florida:

“If Richard Spencer thought that this would be the alt-right’s Beer Hall Putsch, he underestimated how much Americans despise Nazism. Spencer aimed to hijack the University of Florida, manipulating a peaceful place of learning for the sole purpose of provoking violence. His filth has been rightly rejected by campus leaders and the university administration, by protestors—including our members—and even by the people who attended his talk, whose values did not permit them to remain silent.

“As Spencer propagates bigotry and division, counter-protesters and union members are standing up for peace and tolerance. We strongly support free speech and the protections provided by the First Amendment. But the violence stoked by the likes of Spencer—the kind we saw kill Heather Heyer in Charlottesville, and that he attempted to bring about again in Gainesville today—is not speech and, as such, cannot be allowed to spread without challenge.”

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The AFT represents 1.7 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; nurses and healthcare workers; and early childhood educators.