3 arrested on Auburn campus as white nationalist Richard Spencer - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

3 arrested on Auburn campus as white nationalist Richard Spencer speaks

Richard Spencer spoke to a crowd of about 400 inside Auburn University's Foy Hall Tuesday night as protesters gathered outside. (Source: WSFA 12 News) Richard Spencer spoke to a crowd of about 400 inside Auburn University's Foy Hall Tuesday night as protesters gathered outside. (Source: WSFA 12 News)
Approximately 400 people attended Spencer's talk on Auburn's campus. Several hundred more supporters and protesters stood outside. (Source: WSFA 12 News) Approximately 400 people attended Spencer's talk on Auburn's campus. Several hundred more supporters and protesters stood outside. (Source: WSFA 12 News)
One of several people arrested on Auburn University's campus Tuesday evening. (Source: WSFA 12 News) One of several people arrested on Auburn University's campus Tuesday evening. (Source: WSFA 12 News)
Groups of people begin gathering outside Foy Hall. (Source: Brandon Ethridge/WTVM) Groups of people begin gathering outside Foy Hall. (Source: Brandon Ethridge/WTVM)
Antifa being escorted off campus. (Source: Brandon Ethridge/WTVM) Antifa being escorted off campus. (Source: Brandon Ethridge/WTVM)
AUBURN, AL (WSFA/AP) -

White nationalist Richard B. Spencer made good on a promise to visit and speak on the campus of Auburn University Tuesday despite the university canceling his permit last week. Spencer won a restraining order in federal court in Montgomery, allowing him to speak on the campus as planned. 

Both Spencer supporters and opponents showed up in front of Foy Hall where police set up a protest zone. While there was shouting and protesting, as well as three arrests, police did not report any rioting. Auburn requested and received assistance from the Montgomery Police Department and Alabama State Troopers.

Spencer, who previously made news by addressing a far-right gathering where audience members gave a Nazi salute, brought polarized crowds to the Plains. As he spoke to a full room of about 400 people, three people (two men and a woman) outside were arrested for fighting.

Inside, the Associated Press reported that only a few chairs in the 400-seat room were empty as Spencer and other speakers railed against ethnicity and racial diversity, liberals, the media and more. He said he wanted to promote white pride. 

At least one person in the audience protested before leaving. The unidentified man chanted, "You're not my white," before exiting the room. 

Spencer said his fight and win to speak at Auburn is a legal victory that will have echoes around the world for free speech. He explained to the audience that "The Alt-right is about identity...about fighting for white European Americans." He added that "white people are f*****g awesome."

He's also touched on a sacred topic to many in the south: SEC football. Spencer called SEC football "sick" and said black athletes are not part of white identity and that he would ban football.

The lawyer who fought for Spencer to be allowed to speak is quoted as saying "diversity is not a strength."

Spencer's request to speak on Auburn's campus was initially allowed and he rented a room for $700 and agreed to pay for security. But following discussions by the university with law enforcement, Auburn canceled his speaking event. Spencer took to social media, promising he would speak on the campus regardless.

On Tuesday, a federal judge in Montgomery ruled Auburn University must let Spencer speak on campus, granting him a restraining order against the university. A lawyer involved in the case on Spencer's side, Sam Dickson, said the decision by U.S. District Judge W. Keith Watkins means Spencer can appear at the student union as originally planned.

Auburn Provost Timothy Boosinger released the following letter Tuesday afternoon:

"Over the past week, Auburn University has faced attempts by uninvited, unaffiliated, off-campus groups and individuals to provoke conflict that is racially divisive and disruptive to our campus environment. Whether it's offensive rhetoric, offensive flyers around campus, or inappropriate remarks on social media, we will not allow the efforts of individuals or groups to undermine Auburn's core values of inclusion and diversity and challenge the ideals personified by the Auburn Creed.

Auburn University supports the rights and privileges afforded by the First Amendment. However, when the tenets of free speech are overshadowed by threats to the safety of our students, faculty, and staff, we have a responsibility to protect our campus and the men and women who unite our academic community. The decision to cancel the Richard Spencer event last week was informed by leadership from all of the university's shared governance groups and the Auburn Police Division, all of whom articulated legitimate concerns for the safety and security of our campus.

This afternoon, a federal judge ruled that Auburn must allow Spencer to speak in the Foy Auditorium tonight. It is now more important than ever that we respond in a way that is peaceful, respectful, and maintains civil discourse. We are aware that various campus groups have planned events for this evening. Please know that additional security measures are being taken by the Auburn Police Division to uphold the safety of our community.

The Provost's Office will support requests from faculty and students to miss classes this evening."

The ruling came during a hearing in a lawsuit challenging Auburn's refusal to let the talk occur. Dickson filed the suit on behalf of Cameron Padgett, identified as an Atlanta-area resident who rented an auditorium for Spencer's talk.

Following the talk, Spencer took to Twitter to exclaim, "Amazing victory tonight! Thanks to everyone who was involved!"

A map of Auburn University's campus, showing where Foy Hall is located. 

Copyright 2017 WSFA 12 News. All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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