COLLEGE STATION, Texas - Protesters from across the state gathered in College Station to take a stand against white nationalist Richard Spencer, who spoke on campus Tuesday evening.
Former A&M student Preston Wiginton invited Dallas native and alt-right leader Richard Spencer to speak on campus. Spencer, who leads a movement that mixes racism, white nationalism and populism, was invited by the former student, who can reserve campus space available to the public.
In an interview before the event, Spencer told FOX4 he's in Texas to make “a splash” and said the uproar surrounding his university visit is ridiculous.
“All of this danger you talk about is not created by me, it's created from other people,” Spencer said.
Those other people, Spencer said, are non-whites and what he calls 'the establishment' -- the liberal media.
“The reason why I scare them is because I’m compelling and attractive, down to earth and laid back. I am not the stereotype they want a racist to be,” Spencer said.
The St. Mark’s School of Texas graduate said he wouldn’t call himself a racist.
“Racist is a stupid word, It just means, 'I don’t like you. Go away,'” Spencer said. “No, I think race is real. Race matters and race is the foundation of identity. So if that makes me a racist, then who cares.”
Spencer’s public speech began at 7 p.m. and was met with protesters, supporters, cheers, boos and outbursts from the crowd. He spoke about the origins of his movement and "his identity as a white man."
“Texas is a wonderful place to live. And there are a lot of the white man’s bones in the ground that made that happen. White people did it. And I’m not going to ever claim that there wasn’t a lot of brutality with it,” he told the crowd. “At the end of the day, America can’t exist without us. We defined it. This country does belong to white people — culturally, politically, everything.”
At one point, a fight almost broke out when two men tried to confront Spencer during his speech. Police stepped in and broke up the fight before it escalated.
Protests broke out long before Spencer's event began. A large crowd began gathering a 4:30 p.m. Some even marched inside of the building where Spencer was speaking in an attempt to drown out his message with their voices. Dozens of state troopers in full riot gear held protesters back as Spencer spoke.
One of the organizers of the protest told the crowd it was a "spirited, non-violent action against the alt-right movement."
"I was a little girl in World War II, but I clearly remember that he didn't turn out well for anybody. And I hate to see that be brought back to the forefront in our country," said protester Audrey Patton.
Although President-elect Donald Trump has publicly disavowed the alt-right movement, many protesters feel his tone and rhetoric sends a different message that provokes acts of hate. In a recent speech, Spencer asked people to give Nazi salutes for Trump’s election.
In a statement, A&M President Michael Young said Spencer wouldn't be prevented from speaking as the school values freedom of speech.
Texas A&M University held an event to highlight diversity and unity at the same time Spencer was speaking.
The "Aggies United" event, according to A&M spokeswoman Amy Smith, was a chance for the school and the community to "be unified with our disgust, really, for this person."
Spencer said Tuesday’s event is his last speaking engagement of the year but did say he's confirmed to speak at least two other state universities sometime next year. He declined to identify the schools fearing a public backlash.
Campus police say the event resulted in two non-student arrests. No other details were given.