Thousands of people gathered at the Texas A&M University campus Tuesday evening to protest a white nationalist’s speaking engagement.
Several groups protested outside of the student center during and before the appearance by Richard Spencer, the head of the white nationalist National Policy Institute. Some silently held placards while others loudly chanted slogans under the watchful eye of police dressed in full riot gear, who were called to the campus to maintain order.
“At the end of the day, America belongs to white men,” Spencer told the 400 or so people gathered at a student center ballroom — some listening to Spencer, others jeering him.
During his speech, Spencer addressed last month’s controversial gathering of the so-called alt-right movement celebrating Donald Trump’s victory, during which he evoked Nazi imagery and language and ranted about white supremacy, while his audience responded with Nazi salutes.
“Hail Trump! Hail our people! Hail victory!” Spencer could be heard saying in footage of the event recorded by The Atlantic. A rapturous audience responded with applause and quite a few Hitler salutes.
Spencer told Texas A&M students the viral video of the Washington DC gathering was “a desire by the media to slander us with one piece of 30-second footage,” according to CNN.
During his address, Spencer was interrupted a number of times by protesters. Two students confronted him by standing in directly in front of him, holding a sign denouncing the alt-right movement.
The silent protest sparked a scuffle between Spencer’s supporters and opponents. Local police removed several protesters before Spencer was allowed to continue.
— Aimée (@RosalindaAimee) December 7, 2016
Those attending the speech had to walk a gantlet of chanting protesters shouting “No love for Nazis” while leaving the hall.
Meanwhile, thousands of people gathered at nearby Kyle Field to hear music and speeches highlighting diversity and unity as a counter to Spencer.
The university newspaper The Battalion reported that over the course of Tuesday night’s protests, police arrested two people, neither of them students.
A&M officials say they didn’t schedule the speech by Spencer, who was invited to speak by a former student who reserved campus space available to the public.