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White Nationalist Gets A Few Cheers, Many Jeers In Speech At Texas A&M

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

OK, the white nationalist leader Richard Spencer drew attention last month after giving a speech in Washington, D.C., that ended with a call of hail Trump and Nazi salutes from his likeminded audience. This time, Spencer faced a different crowd at a Texas university. Florian Martin with Houston Public Media reports.

FLORIAN MARTIN, BYLINE: Spencer was invited to Texas A&M University by an alum who has been known to invite controversial speakers to the school. The white nationalist leader drew a large crowd from across the state, but the vast majority came to protest him. In his 40-minute-long speech plus hour and a half Q&A, Spencer claimed that, quote, "America belongs to white men."

He got frequent applause from his maybe two dozen supporters, but most of the audience reaction was confrontational. And on two occasions, police had to intervene in fights between supporters and protesters. Spencer kept the discussion mostly civil, but did haul a few insults against those in the crowd who criticized him or presented different views.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

RICHARD SPENCER: She's dancing. Perhaps she'll lose some weight.

Let's cool down the autism a little bit.

You're not even willing to go to the gym. Look how fat you are.

MARTIN: Among Spencer's supporters was Hazzard McCree, who drove up from Houston. He was sporting a Make America Great Again hat. He says it was good for Spencer to reach a young audience.

HAZZARD MCCREE: You take a look at the people here, and you see, you know, 19 to 23-year-old young individuals, a lot of them white. And these are the sort of people that he wants to get his message to.

MARTIN: A&M student Kirbi Teague says she's disappointed that some of her fellow students support Spencer. But at the same time, she feels reassured by the larger protests against him.

KIRBI TEAGUE: I'm so impressed with my white Aggies. Like, I'm not even kidding (laughter). They rallied together, and they had one of the biggest movements I've seen on campus to protest against Richard Spencer. And I can't say that I've ever been more proud to be an Aggie until I saw that.

MARTIN: The university itself organized a rivaling event in the football stadium with music and speakers to highlight diversity and inclusion. For NPR News, I'm Florian Martin in College Station, Texas. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.