Protesters denounce white nationalist Richard Spencer's speech at Florida university

GAINESVILLE, Fla., Oct 19 (Reuters) - Protesters shouted "Go home Nazis" as a white nationalist gave a speech on Thursday at the University of Florida, where hundreds of police set up barricades and separated supporters and demonstrators to guard against violence.

Richard Spencer's event at the university in Gainesville, which prompted the governor to declare a state of emergency to prepare for possible conflict, came about two months after rallies by neo-Nazis and white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia, led to a deadly clash with counter-protesters.

The violence on Aug. 12 added fuel to a national debate on race, and Republican President Donald Trump came under fire for blaming both sides for the melee.

White supremacists have been working to bring Spencer to various public universities, saying he has a constitutional right to free speech. The effort has forced college leaders to allow what they see as hate speech on campus and provide security to prevent violent clashes.

On Thursday, several hundred protesters shouting "We don't want your Nazi hate" marched outside a campus performing arts center where Spencer spoke.

Two people were arrested, including a man hired as security for media for illegally carrying a firearm on campus, the Alachua County Sheriff's Office said. Another man wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with swastikas emerged from a crowd of protesters with a bloody lip.

See images from the scene:

27 PHOTOS
Protests for and against Richard Spencer's UF appearance
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Protests for and against Richard Spencer's UF appearance
A man walks with a bloody lip as demonstrators yell at him outside the location where Richard Spencer, an avowed white nationalist and spokesperson for the so-called alt-right movement, is delivering a speech on the campus of the University of Florida in Gainesville, Florida, U.S., October 19, 2017. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton
Demonstrators rally before the speech by Richard Spencer, an avowed white nationalist and spokesperson for the so-called alt-right movement, on the campus of the University of Florida in Gainesville, Florida, U.S., October 19, 2017. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton
Demonstrators stand before the speech by Richard Spencer, an avowed white nationalist and spokesperson for the so-called alt-right movement, on the campus of the University of Florida in Gainesville, Florida, U.S., October 19, 2017. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton
Demonstrators rally before the speech by Richard Spencer, an avowed white nationalist and spokesperson for the so-called alt-right movement, on the campus of the University of Florida in Gainesville, Florida, U.S., October 19, 2017. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton
Tyler Tenbrink, a self proclaimed White Nationalist who drove from Texas, poses for a portrait before the speech by Richard Spencer, an avowed white nationalist and spokesperson for the so-called alt-right movement, on the campus of the University of Florida in Gainesville, Florida, U.S., October 19, 2017. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton
Tyler Tenbrink, a self proclaimed White Nationalist who drove from Texas, is stopped by the police before the speech by Richard Spencer, an avowed white nationalist and spokesperson for the so-called alt-right movement, on the campus of the University of Florida in Gainesville, Florida, U.S., October 19, 2017. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton
Demonstrators rally before the speech by Richard Spencer, an avowed white nationalist and spokesperson for the so-called alt-right movement, on the campus of the University of Florida in Gainesville, Florida, U.S., October 19, 2017. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton
Demonstrators rally before the speech by Richard Spencer, an avowed white nationalist and spokesperson for the so-called alt-right movement, on the campus of the University of Florida in Gainesville, Florida, U.S., October 19, 2017. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton
A flier is seen on a pole the day before a speech by Richard Spencer, an avowed white nationalist and spokesperson for the so-called alt-right movement, on the campus of the University of Florida in Gainesville, Florida, U.S., October 18, 2017. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton
Demonstrators rally before the speech by Richard Spencer, an avowed white nationalist and spokesperson for the so-called alt-right movement, on the campus of the University of Florida in Gainesville, Florida, U.S., October 19, 2017. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton
A student walks past a banner and slogan the day before a speech by Richard Spencer, an avowed white nationalist and spokesperson for the so-called alt-right movement, on the campus of the University of Florida in Gainesville, Florida, U.S., October 18, 2017. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton
GAINESVILLE, FL - OCTOBER 19: White nationalist Richard Spencer, who popularized the term 'alt-right' speaks during a press conference at the Curtis M. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts on October 19, 2017 in Gainesville, Florida. Spencer delivered a speech on the college campus, his first since he and others participated in the 'Unite the Right' rally, which turned violent in Charlottesville, Virginia. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
GAINESVILLE, FL - OCTOBER 19: White nationalist Richard Spencer, who popularized the term 'alt-right' speaks during a press conference at the Curtis M. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts on October 19, 2017 in Gainesville, Florida. Spencer delivered a speech on the college campus, his first since he and others participated in the 'Unite the Right' rally, which turned violent in Charlottesville, Virginia. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
GAINESVILLE, FL - OCTOBER 19: White nationalist Richard Spencer, who popularized the term 'alt-right' speaks during a press conference at the Curtis M. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts on October 19, 2017 in Gainesville, Florida. Spencer delivered a speech on the college campus, his first since he and others participated in the 'Unite the Right' rally, which turned violent in Charlottesville, Virginia. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
GAINESVILLE, FL - OCTOBER 19: White nationalist Richard Spencer, who popularized the term 'alt-right' speaks during a press conference at the Curtis M. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts on October 19, 2017 in Gainesville, Florida. Spencer delivered a speech on the college campus, his first since he and others participated in the 'Unite the Right' rally, which turned violent in Charlottesville, Virginia. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
GAINESVILLE, FL - OCTOBER 19: Police monitor the scene at the site of a planned speech by white nationalist Richard Spencer, who popularized the term 'alt-right', at the University of Florida campus on October 19, 2017 in Gainesville, Florida. A state of emergency was declared on Monday by Florida Gov. Rick Scott to allow for increased law enforcement due to fears of violence. (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)
GAINESVILLE, FL - OCTOBER 19: Police check the bags of journalists entering the site of a planned speech by white nationalist Richard Spencer, who popularized the term 'alt-right', at the University of Florida campus on October 19, 2017 in Gainesville, Florida. A state of emergency was declared on Monday by Florida Gov. Rick Scott to allow for increased law enforcement due to fears of violence. (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)
GAINESVILLE, FL - OCTOBER 19: Police monitor the scene at the site of a planned speech by white nationalist Richard Spencer, who popularized the term 'alt-right', at the University of Florida campus on October 19, 2017 in Gainesville, Florida. A state of emergency was declared on Monday by Florida Gov. Rick Scott to allow for increased law enforcement due to fears of violence. (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)
GAINESVILLE, FL - OCTOBER 19: Members of Richard Spencer's security team, in white, stand behind police and decide who gets tickets to a speech by white nationalist Richard Spencer, who popularized the term 'alt-right', at the University of Florida campus on October 19, 2017 in Gainesville, Florida. A state of emergency was declared on Monday by Florida Gov. Rick Scott to allow for increased law enforcement due to fears of violence. (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)
GAINESVILLE, FL - OCTOBER 19: A self-proclaimed white nationalist speaks to members of the media near the site of a planned speech by white nationalist Richard Spencer, who popularized the term 'alt-right', at the University of Florida campus on October 19, 2017 in Gainesville, Florida. A state of emergency was declared on Monday by Florida Gov. Rick Scott to allow for increased law enforcement due to fears of violence. (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)
GAINESVILLE, FL - OCTOBER 19: A woman cries and is comforted by a demonstrator after she was refused entry into a planned speech by Richard Spencer, a white nationalist who popularized the term 'alt-right', at the University of Florida campus on October 19, 2017 in Gainesville, Florida. A state of emergency was declared on Monday by Florida Gov. Rick Scott to allow for increased law enforcement due to fears of violence. (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)
GAINESVILLE, FL - OCTOBER 19: A woman protests as she is guided out by members of the Florida Highway Patrol after she was refused entry into a planned speech by Richard Spencer by members of Spencer's security team, not pictured, prior to a speech by Spencer, a white nationalist who popularized the term 'alt-right', at the University of Florida campus on October 19, 2017 in Gainesville, Florida. A state of emergency was declared on Monday by Florida Gov. Rick Scott to allow for increased law enforcement due to fears of violence. (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)
GAINESVILLE, FL - OCTOBER 19: Demonstrators gather at the site of a planned speech by white nationalist Richard Spencer, who popularized the term 'alt-right', at the University of Florida campus on October 19, 2017 in Gainesville, Florida. A state of emergency was declared on Monday by Florida Gov. Rick Scott to allow for increased law enforcement due to fears of violence. (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)
GAINESVILLE, FL - OCTOBER 19: A man protests as he is carried away by members of the Florida Highway Patrol from the entrance to a planned speech by white nationalist Richard Spencer, who popularized the term 'alt-right', after being refused tickets by members of Spencer's security team, not pictured, at the University of Florida campus on October 19, 2017 in Gainesville, Florida. A state of emergency was declared on Monday by Florida Gov. Rick Scott to allow for increased law enforcement due to fears of violence. (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)
GAINESVILLE, FL - OCTOBER 19: Demonstrators gather at the site of a planned speech by white nationalist Richard Spencer, who popularized the term 'alt-right', at the University of Florida campus on October 19, 2017 in Gainesville, Florida. A state of emergency was declared on Monday by Florida Gov. Rick Scott to allow for increased law enforcement due to fears of violence. (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)
GAINESVILLE, FL - OCTOBER 19: Demonstrators gather at the site of a planned speech by white nationalist Richard Spencer, who popularized the term 'alt-right', at the University of Florida campus on October 19, 2017 in Gainesville, Florida. A state of emergency was declared on Monday by Florida Gov. Rick Scott to allow for increased law enforcement due to fears of violence. (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)
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"There were a few scuffles, but for the most part it was an extremely peaceful event," said Chris Sims, a spokesman for the sheriff's office.

Inside the venue, Spencer and protesters yelled at one another, and he criticized them for trying to suppress his speech.

"I’m not going home," said Spencer, who heads the National Policy Institute, a nationalist think tank, and promoted the Charlottesville rally. "We are stronger than you and you all know it!"

He appeared to have few supporters in the crowd. About 15 white men, all dressed in white shirts and khaki pants, raised their hands when Spencer asked who identified with the alt-right, a loose grouping characterized by a rejection of mainstream politics that includes neo-Nazis, white supremacists and anti-Semites.

Spencer left the campus soon after the event ended, university public safety officials said on Twitter. Police worked to separate those who attended the event as they left the venue from protesters gathered nearby.

One Spencer supporter appeared to have been sprayed in the face with an irritant. Police were not immediately available to speak about the incident.

Anais Edwards, 26, was inside the venue and supported those trying to disrupt Spencer.

"I’m really proud of how our community came together. Many of them were willing to stand up and not let him speak," Edwards said.

The university said it did not invite Spencer to speak, but was obligated by law to allow the event. The school said it would spend more than $500,000 on security, and the National Policy Institute is paying more than $10,000 to rent the facility and for security within the venue.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors U.S. hate groups, said Spencer is "a radical white separatist whose goal is the establishment of a white ethno-state in North America."

An outspoken supporter of Trump during the 2016 campaign, Spencer rose from relative obscurity after widely circulated videos showed some Trump supporters giving Nazi-style salutes to Spencer during a gathering in Washington to celebrate the Republican candidate's win. Trump condemned the meeting.

The death in Charlottesville, home to the flagship campus of the University of Virginia, occurred as counter-protesters were dispersing. A 20-year-old man who is said by law enforcement to have harbored Nazi sympathies drove his car into the crowd, killing a 32-year-old woman.

See images from the violent Charlottesville rally:

44 PHOTOS
Charlottesville violence erupts as protesters and counterprotesters clash
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Charlottesville violence erupts as protesters and counterprotesters clash
CHARLOTTESVILLE, USA - August 12: A White Supremacist kicks back a smoke bomb thrown by counter protestors during clashes at Emancipation Park where the White Nationalists are protesting the removal of the Robert E. Lee monument in Charlottesville, Va., USA on August 12, 2017. (Photo by Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
CHARLOTTESVILLE, USA - August 12: A White Supremacist tries to strike a counter protestor with a White Nationalist flag during clashes at Emancipation Park where the White Nationalists are protesting the removal of the Robert E. Lee monument in Charlottesville, Va., USA on August 12, 2017. (Photo by Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Rescue workers assist people who were injured when a car drove through a group of counter protestors at the "Unite the Right" rally Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S., August 12, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
People receive first-aid after a car accident ran into a crowd of protesters in Charlottesville, VA on August 12, 2017. A vehicle plowed into a crowd of people Saturday at a Virginia rally where violence erupted between white nationalist demonstrators and counter-protesters, witnesses said, causing an unclear number of injuries. / AFP PHOTO / PAUL J. RICHARDS (Photo credit should read PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)
CHARLOTTESVILLE, USA - August 12: Police, medical personnel, and other protestors attend to the injured people after a car rammed into a crowd of anti-White Supremacy protestors in Charlottesville, Va., USA on August 12, 2017. (Photo by Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
A woman who was injured when a car drove through a group of counter protestors at the "Unite the Right" rally is helped in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S., August 12, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts?
Rescue workers assist people who were injured when a car drove through a group of counter protestors at the "Unite the Right" rally Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S., August 12, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
Rescue workers transport a victim who was injured when a car drove through a group of counter protestors at the "Unite the Right" rally Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S., August 12, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
A woman is received first-aid after a car accident ran into a crowd of protesters in Charlottesville, VA on August 12, 2017. A picturesque Virginia city braced Saturday for a flood of white nationalist demonstrators as well as counter-protesters, declaring a local emergency as law enforcement attempted to quell early violent clashes. / AFP PHOTO / PAUL J. RICHARDS (Photo credit should read PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)
People receive first-aid after a car accident ran into a crowd of protesters in Charlottesville, VA on August 12, 2017. A picturesque Virginia city braced Saturday for a flood of white nationalist demonstrators as well as counter-protesters, declaring a local emergency as law enforcement attempted to quell early violent clashes. / AFP PHOTO / PAUL J. RICHARDS (Photo credit should read PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)
Rescue workers assist people who were injured when a car drove through a group of counter protestors at the "Unite the Right" rally Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S., August 12, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
A woman is received first-aid after a car accident ran into a crowd of protesters in Charlottesville, VA on August 12, 2017. A picturesque Virginia city braced Saturday for a flood of white nationalist demonstrators as well as counter-protesters, declaring a local emergency as law enforcement attempted to quell early violent clashes. / AFP PHOTO / PAUL J. RICHARDS (Photo credit should read PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)
CHARLOTTESVILLE, USA - August 12: A White Supremacist helps a friend after he was punched in the face during clashes with counter protestors at Emancipation Park where the White Nationalists are protesting the removal of the Robert E. Lee monument in Charlottesville, Va., USA on August 12, 2017. (Photo by Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
CHARLOTTESVILLE, USA - August 12: A counter protestor strikes a White Nationalist with a baton during clashes at Emancipation Park where the White Nationalists are protesting the removal of the Robert E. Lee monument in Charlottesville, Va., USA on August 12, 2017. (Photo by Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
CHARLOTTESVILLE, USA - August 12: White Supremacists and counter protestors clash at Emancipation Park where the White Nationalists are protesting the removal of the Robert E. Lee monument in Charlottesville, Va., USA on August 12, 2017. (Photo by Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
A man is seen with an injury during a clash between members of white nationalist protesters against a group of counter-protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S., August 12, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
Virginia State Police move in as members of white nationalist protesters clash against a group of counter-protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S., August 12, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
People struggle with a Confederate flag as a crowd of white nationalists are met by a group of counter-protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S., August 12, 2017. REUTERS/Justin Ide
CHARLOTTESVILLE, USA - August 12: White Supremacists rush forward with shields and sticks during clashes with counter protestors at Emancipation Park where the White Nationalists are protesting the removal of the Robert E. Lee monument in Charlottesville, Va., USA on August 12, 2017. (Photo by Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
A white supremacists stands behind militia members after he scuffled with a counter demonstrator in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S., August 12, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
A white supremacists stands with militia members after he scuffled with a counter demonstrator in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S., August 12, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
A white supremacists stands behind militia members after he scuffled with a counter demonstrator in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S., August 12, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA - AUGUST 12: White nationalists, neo-Nazis and members of the 'alt-right' take refuge in an alleyway after being hit with pepper spray after the 'Unite the Right' rally was declared an unlawful gathering August 12, 2017 in Charlottesville, Virginia. After clashes with anti-facist protesters and police the rally was declared an unlawful gathering and people were forced out of Lee Park, where a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee is slated to be removed. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Members of white nationalists are met by a group of counter-protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S., August 12, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Members of white nationalists clash against a group of counter-protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S., August 12, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
A white supremacists carries the Confederate flag as he arrives for a rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S., August 12, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
Virginia State Troopers stand under a statue of Robert E. Lee before a white supremacists rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S., August 12, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
A white supremacist holds a flag during a rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S., August 12, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
A member of a white supremacists militia stands near a rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S., August 12, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
Virginia State Police officer aims during clash protests in Charlottesville, VA on August 12, 2017. A picturesque Virginia city braced Saturday for a flood of white nationalist demonstrators as well as counter-protesters, declaring a local emergency as law enforcement attempted to quell early violent clashes. / AFP PHOTO / PAUL J. RICHARDS (Photo credit should read PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)
CHARLOTTESVILLE, USA - August 12: White Supremacists and counter protestors clash at Emancipation Park where the White Nationalists are protesting the removal of the Robert E. Lee monument in Charlottesville, Va., USA on August 12, 2017. (Photo by Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
CHARLOTTESVILLE, USA - August 12: A White Supremacist with a White Nationalist flag during clashes with counter protestors at Emancipation Park where the White Nationalists are protesting the removal of the Robert E. Lee monument in Charlottesville, Va., USA on August 12, 2017. (Photo by Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Rescue workers assist people who were injured when a car drove through a group of counter protestors at the "Unite the Right" rally Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S., August 12, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
First responders stand by a car that was struck when a car drove through a group of counter protesters at the "Unite the Right" rally Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S., August 12, 2017. REUTERS/Justin Ide
Rescue workers transport a victim who was injured when a car drove through a group of counter protestors at the "Unite the Right" rally Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S., August 12, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
Rescue workers assist people who were injured when a car drove through a group of counter protestors at the "Unite the Right" rally Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S., August 12, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
A man who was hit with pepper spray reacts during a clash between a crowd of white supremacist protesters against a group of counter-protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S., August 12, 2017. REUTERS/Justin Ide
White supremacists clash with counter protesters during a rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S., August 12, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
A white supremacist militia member stands in front of clergy counter protesting during rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S., August 12, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
A counter protest yells at white supremacists during a rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S., August 12, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
A Virginia State Trooper stands guard at the crime scene where a vehicle plowed into a crowd of counter protesters and two other vehicles (rear) near the "Unite the Right" rally organized by white nationalists in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S., August 12, 2017. REUTERS/Jim Bourg
White supremacists stand behind their shields at a rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S., August 12, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
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(Reporting by Zachary Fagenson; Writing by Jon Herskovitz and Colleen Jenkins; Editing by Lisa Shumaker and Dan Grebler)

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