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COLLEGE STATION (CBSDFW.COM) — Tensions ran high as hundreds of people protested a white nationalist’s speaking engagement at the Texas A&M University campus tonight.
Several groups protested outside of the student center during and before the appearance by Richard Spencer, who leads the loose alt-right movement, a largely anonymous online organization.READ MORE: Governor Abbott Proposes Parental Bill of Rights As Part of Re-Election Campaign
At one point, Spencer told the crowd, “America at the end of the day belongs to white men.”
Spencer took to the stage to promote what he calls “a movement of identity.” He is spreading his message of strengthening the white race to any and all who will listen. Despite his openly racist rhetoric, Spencer denies that he’s racist; claiming he only wants to awaken his “oppressed people” cowering by the current world.
Some of the roughly 600 people who filled the student center ballroom silently held signs while others loudly chanted slogans in anger, jeering at Spencer but some clapped in support.
A brief scuffle even broke out but was quickly quelled by police suited up in riot gear. Those attending the speech had to walk a gantlet of chanting protesters while leaving the hall.
In contrast, hundreds more gathered at nearby Kyle Field to hear music and speeches highlighting diversity and unity as a counter to Spencer.
“I think it’s important to show that hate speech is not tolerated on this campus,” said TAMU student Raul Garcia.READ MORE: Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton Refuses To Hand Over January 6 Records
Others who don’t support Spencer’s message expressed support of his First Amendment right.
“I mean it’s his right to say what he wants, it’s also our right to reject that type of message,” said TAMU student Lauren Thompson.
Another message Spencer had for those in attendance was to watch President-elect Donald Trump closely.
“We need to be willing to criticize Donald Trump,” said Spencer. “I am worried about Donald Trump becoming just another Republican and not fulfilling the promise of his campaign.”
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.
Two non-student arrests were made at the event, according to TAMU police.
(©2016 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)MORE NEWS: Dallas ISD: A Lot Involved In Keeping Doors Open During COVID-19 Surge