After fights and arrests, Richard Spencer speaks to tiny crowd at Michigan State

EAST LANSING, Mich. — Fights broke out and authorities made multiple arrests as white supremacists clashed with hundreds of anti-fascist protesters outside the Michigan State University building where white supremacist Richard Spencer was set to speak on Monday. 

MSU students are on spring break, but many still turned up, as did members of antifa and other anti-fascist groups. They all began demonstrating against the event hours before it started, as a large contingent of police looked on. 

When the largest group of white nationalists — led by Traditionalist Worker Party members Matthew Heimbach and Johan Carollo — tried to walk into the building, protesters repeatedly beat them back. 

Carollo, sporting a fresh bruise on his cheek, yelled “Race traitors!” at the protesters before leaving. Neither he nor his crew appeared to make it inside to hear Spencer speak. Gregory Conte, director of operations at the white nationalist think thank National Policy Institute, was arrested during the melee for unclear reasons. 

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Richard Spencer speaks at Michigan State University
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Richard Spencer speaks at Michigan State University
A member of the Traditionalist Workers Party does a salute outside of a Richard Spencer speech on the campus of Michigan State University in East Lansing, Michigan, U.S., March 5, 2018. REUTERS/Stephanie Keith TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
A member of the alt-right (R) is escorted by police officers through protesters to the Richard Spencer speech on the campus of Michigan State University in East Lansing, Michigan, U.S., March 5, 2018. REUTERS/Stephanie Keith TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Members of the various anti-fascist groups and other protesters yell at police officers on the campus of Michigan State University outside of a Richard Spencer speech in East Lansing, Michigan, U.S., March 5, 2018. REUTERS/Stephanie Keith TEMPLATE OUT
A member of the alt-right is escorted by police officers through protesters to the Richard Spencer speech on the campus of Michigan State University in East Lansing, Michigan, U.S., March 5, 2018. REUTERS/Stephanie Keith
A member of the alt-right is knocked down by protesters on his way to the Richard Spencer speech on the campus of Michigan State University in East Lansing, Michigan, U.S., March 5, 2018. REUTERS/Stephanie Keith
A protester yells at police officers on the campus of Michigan State University outside of a Richard Spencer speech in East Lansing, Michigan, U.S., March 5, 2018. REUTERS/Stephanie Keith TEMPLATE OUT
Members of the various anti-fascist groups and other protesters yell at police officers on the campus of Michigan State University outside of a Richard Spencer speech in East Lansing, Michigan, U.S., March 5, 2018. REUTERS/Stephanie Keith
Members of the various anti-fascist groups and other protesters lock arms together on the campus of Michigan State University outside of a Richard Spencer speech in East Lansing, Michigan, U.S., March 5, 2018. REUTERS/Stephanie Keith
A protester is detained outside of a Richard Spencer speech on the campus of Michigan State University in East Lansing, Michigan, U.S., March 5, 2018. REUTERS/Stephanie Keith
A protester holds a sign critical of Richard Spencer the on the campus of Michigan State University in East Lansing, Michigan, U.S., March 5, 2018. REUTERS/Stephanie Keith
Members of the various anti-fascist groups and other protesters yell at police officers on the campus of Michigan State University outside of a Richard Spencer speech in East Lansing, Michigan, U.S., March 5, 2018. REUTERS/Stephanie Keith
A member of the alt-right is detained outside of a Richard Spencer speech on the campus of Michigan State University in East Lansing, Michigan, U.S., March 5 2018. REUTERS/Stephanie Keith
Members of the alt-right including members of the Traditionalist Workers Party fight with protesters outside of a Richard Spencer speech on the campus of Michigan State University in East Lansing, Michigan, U.S., March 5, 2018. REUTERS/Stephanie Keith
EAST LANSING, MI - MARCH 05: Demonstrators clash with police before the start of a speech by white nationalist Richard Spencer, who popularized the term 'alt-right', at Michigan State University on March 5, 2018 in East Lansing, Michigan. Spencer was granted permission to speak after suing the university which is currently on Spring break. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
EAST LANSING, MI - MARCH 05: Demonstrators protest outside of a speech by white nationalist Richard Spencer, who popularized the term 'alt-right', at Michigan State University on March 5, 2018 in East Lansing, Michigan. Spencer was granted permission to speak after suing the university which is currently on Spring break. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
EAST LANSING, MI - MARCH 05: Demonstrators clash with police before the start of a speech by white nationalist Richard Spencer, who popularized the term 'alt-right', at Michigan State University on March 5, 2018 in East Lansing, Michigan. Spencer was granted permission to speak after suing the university which is currently on Spring break. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
EAST LANSING, MI - MARCH 05: A police officer is bloodied after a clash with demonstrators before the start of a speech by white nationalist Richard Spencer, who popularized the term 'alt-right', at Michigan State University on March 5, 2018 in East Lansing, Michigan. Spencer was granted permission to speak after suing the university which is currently on Spring break. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
EAST LANSING, MI - MARCH 05: White nationalists clash with counter-demonstrators before the start of a speech by white nationalist Richard Spencer, who popularized the term 'alt-right', at Michigan State University on March 5, 2018 in East Lansing, Michigan. Spencer was granted permission to speak after suing the university which is currently on Spring break. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
EAST LANSING, MI - MARCH 05: White nationalists clash with counter-demonstrators before the start of a speech by white nationalist Richard Spencer, who popularized the term 'alt-right', at Michigan State University on March 5, 2018 in East Lansing, Michigan. Spencer was granted permission to speak after suing the university which is currently on Spring break. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
EAST LANSING, MI - MARCH 05: White nationalists clash with counter-demonstrators before the start of a speech by white nationalist Richard Spencer, who popularized the term 'alt-right', at Michigan State University on March 5, 2018 in East Lansing, Michigan. Spencer was granted permission to speak after suing the university which is currently on Spring break. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
EAST LANSING, MI - MARCH 05: Demonstrators protest outside of a speech by white nationalist Richard Spencer, who popularized the term 'alt-right', at Michigan State University on March 5, 2018 in East Lansing, Michigan. Spencer was granted permission to speak after suing the university which is currently on Spring break. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
EAST LANSING, MI - MARCH 05: White nationalists Greg Conte (L) and Matthew Heimbach (C) prepare to attend a speech by white nationalist Richard Spencer, who popularized the term 'alt-right', at Michigan State University on March 5, 2018 in East Lansing, Michigan. Spencer was granted permission to speak after suing the university which is currently on Spring break. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
EAST LANSING, MI - MARCH 05: White nationalist Greg Conte (L) s taken into custody after alt-right advocates clashed with counter-demonstrators before the start of a speech by white nationalist Richard Spencer, who popularized the term 'alt-right', at Michigan State University on March 5, 2018 in East Lansing, Michigan. Spencer was granted permission to speak after suing the university which is currently on Spring break. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
EAST LANSING, MI - MARCH 05: White nationalist Greg Conte is taken into custody after alt-right advocates clashed with counter-demonstrators before the start of a speech by white nationalist Richard Spencer, who popularized the term 'alt-right', at Michigan State University on March 5, 2018 in East Lansing, Michigan. Spencer was granted permission to speak after suing the university which is currently on Spring break. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
EAST LANSING, MI - MARCH 05: White nationalists clash with counter-demonstrators before the start of a speech by white nationalist Richard Spencer, who popularized the term 'alt-right', at Michigan State University on March 5, 2018 in East Lansing, Michigan. Spencer was granted permission to speak after suing the university which is currently on Spring break. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
EAST LANSING, MI - MARCH 05: Police stand guard as white nationalists clash with counter-demonstrators before the start of a speech by white nationalist Richard Spencer, who popularized the term 'alt-right', at Michigan State University on March 5, 2018 in East Lansing, Michigan. Spencer was granted permission to speak after suing the university which is currently on Spring break. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
EAST LANSING, MI - MARCH 05: Demonstrators at Michigan State University protest a speech by white nationalist Richard Spencer, who popularized the term 'alt-right', on March 5, 2018 in East Lansing, Michigan. Spencer was granted permission to speak after suing the university which is currently on spring break. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
This was the first fight. Matt Heimbach and Johan Carollo from Traditional Workers Party involved. Carollo had a sh… https://t.co/i8tNs7vHZI
Looks like protesters are beating back the Nazis at Michigan State. A TON of fights breaking out. Nazis can't get i… https://t.co/aK12LGmkkg
Cops using bikes as battering rams to push back protesters https://t.co/7y3L04SeOK
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More clashes broke out as other white nationalists arrived. Police scrambled to establish formations to prevent the two sides from fighting — often to little avail — and successfully escorted some of the white nationalists inside the building.  

HuffPost counted at least 12 arrests. At one point, cops charged through a crowd of protesters, using their bicycles as battering rams. 

According to multiple anti-fascist protesters, somebody threw horse feces at a white supremacist, hitting him. HuffPost couldn’t independently verify that this happened.  

Aiden, a 24-year-old from Lansing who declined to give his last name for fear of retaliation, protested as a member of the anti-fascist group Solidarity and Defense. He said it was important to confront Spencer and his white nationalist cohorts.

“I think we’ve seen throughout history that ignoring them has never worked,” he said. “The only way to destroy genocidal exterminationist fascist movements is to physically confront them and shut down their organizing and their recruiting.”

J.D. Took, 27, stood outside the pavilion holding a sign that read “Advocating genocide is not free speech.” Took, who resides in Lansing, marched to show support for minorities, immigrants and LGBTQ folk.

11 PHOTOS
Alt-Right leader Richard Spencer through the years
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Alt-Right leader Richard Spencer through the years
White nationalist leader Richard Spencer of the National Policy Institute speaks on campus at an event not sanctioned by the school, at Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas, U.S. December 6, 2016. REUTERS/Spencer Selvidge
Richard Spencer of the National Policy Institute arrives on campus to speak at an event not sanctioned by the school, at Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas, U.S. December 6, 2016. REUTERS/Spencer Selvidge
Undocumented Texas A&M students and their supporters protest silently as white nationalist leader Richard Spencer of the National Policy Institute speaks on campus at an event not sanctioned by the school, at Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas, U.S. December 6, 2016. REUTERS/Spencer Selvidge
Organizer Preston Wigginton shakes hands with white nationalist leader Richard Spencer after introducing him at an event on campus not sanctioned by the school, at Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas, U.S. December 6, 2016. REUTERS/Spencer Selvidge
Jacob Jackson, a freshman international studies major, listens after asking a question to white nationalist leader Richard Spencer of the National Policy Institute at an event not sanctioned by the school, at Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas, U.S. December 6, 2016. REUTERS/Spencer Selvidge
White nationalist leader Richard Spencer of the National Policy Institute speaks on campus as a silent protester holds a placard at an event not sanctioned by the school, at Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas, U.S. December 6, 2016. REUTERS/Spencer Selvidge TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
White nationalist leader Richard Spencer of the National Policy Institute speaks on campus during an event not sanctioned by the school, at Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas, U.S. December 6, 2016. REUTERS/Spencer Selvidge
White nationalist leader Richard Spencer of the National Policy Institute waves goodbye after his speech during an event not sanctioned by the school, on campus at Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas, U.S. December 6, 2016. REUTERS/Spencer Selvidge
WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 19: Richard Spencer is in town for the largest white nationalist and Alt Right conference of the year in Washington, DC on November 18, 2016. Spencer, a 38-year-old Dallas native and graduate of St. Mark's School of Texas prep school, is a key intellectual leader of the alternative right, a label he coined in 2008 to describe the radical conservative movement defined by white nationalism and a fervent resistance to multiculturalism and globalism. Spencer currently resides in the resort town of Whitefish, Montana, in what was described as a 'Bavarian-style mansion' in a profile in Mother Jones. He was born in Massachusetts but moved to the Preston Hollow neighborhood of Dallas when he was about 2 years old. 'It was a fairly idyllic, suburban childhood,' Spencer said with a laugh. 'I remember riding bikes around the neighborhood, and so on. I guess you could say I lived in a bubble to a certain extent, like a lot of the kids in that area. But it was very nice.' (Photo by Linda Davidson/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 19: Richard Spencer is in town for the largest white nationalist and Alt Right conference of the year in Washington, DC on November 18, 2016. Spencer, a 38-year-old Dallas native and graduate of St. Mark's School of Texas prep school, is a key intellectual leader of the alternative right, a label he coined in 2008 to describe the radical conservative movement defined by white nationalism and a fervent resistance to multiculturalism and globalism. Spencer currently resides in the resort town of Whitefish, Montana, in what was described as a 'Bavarian-style mansion' in a profile in Mother Jones. He was born in Massachusetts but moved to the Preston Hollow neighborhood of Dallas when he was about 2 years old. 'It was a fairly idyllic, suburban childhood,' Spencer said with a laugh. 'I remember riding bikes around the neighborhood, and so on. I guess you could say I lived in a bubble to a certain extent, like a lot of the kids in that area. But it was very nice.' (Photo by Linda Davidson/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 20: (L-R) Discussion panelists Peter Brimelow, Jared Taylor, Kevin MacDonald, 'Millenial Woes' (thats the name he goes by) and Richard Spencer field questions at an Alt Right ( alternative right) conference hosted by the National Policy Institute in Washington, DC on November 18, 2016. The think tank promotes white nationalism and critics accuse them of being racist and anti-semitic. The chairman of the National Policy Institute, Richard Spencer, has been permanently banned from entering the UK, and was deemed a 'national security threat' after his arrest in Hungary in 2014. He was recently banned from Twitter in a prominent purge by the company this week. (Photo by Linda Davidson/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
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Spencer “made a career out of making genocide sound reasonable. And we’re here to show him that it’s not, that it’s a threat to all of us,” Took said.

Spencer is president of National Policy Institute, listed by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a hate group. NPI, despite its shrill invocations of free speech, would not issue press credentials to HuffPost and a host of other local and national media outlets seeking to report on Spencer’s speech from inside the public university. 

HuffPost managed to get inside anyway. There, Spencer stood in a largely empty auditorium often used for livestock auctions, speaking to just 30 or 40 people, despite claiming to having issued 150 tickets for the event. He blamed the unrest outside for the paltry attendance. A livestream camera focused tightly on him, never panning out across the small crowd. 

He rambled on about wanting to create ethno-states and “re-immigrating” people back to their homelands. This (undoubtedly violent) vision of ethnic cleansing would involve creating an ethnostate for “African-Americans who can not simply go back to Africa,” Spencer said. 

After talking for over an hour, he and the white other white nationalists left the auditorium.  

In an adjoining room, about a dozen protesters arrested during the day’s chaos sat in folding chairs, handcuffed and guarded by police. They seemed in a good mood, at one point singing “Solidarity Forever” and then “Part of Your World” from Disney’s “The Little Mermaid.”

Spencer’s event will likely cost Michigan State University — and by extension, taxpayers — a pretty penny. The university is legally on the hook for security costs. “Right now everything is fluid, so I don’t think there’s a final cost available yet,” Police Cpt. Doug Monette told MLive.com. 

The University of Florida spent half a million dollars — roughly equal to the yearly tuition for 78 in-state undergraduate students — to host Spencer and his fellow travelers at the school in October, all for Spencer to throw a hissy fit on stage when protesters in the audience disrupted his speech. (Afterwards, three Spencer fanboys were arrested for shooting a gun at counter-protesters.)

Spencer — who is most famous for getting punched in the face on Inauguration Day — has had help litigating his way onto college campuses across the country to recruit young members to the so-called “alt-right.”

Since the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August — which ended with an alleged neo-Nazi driving a car into a crowd of protesters, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer and injuring a score more — Spencer crony Cameron Padgett and white nationalist attorney Kyle Bristow have been busy suing or threatening to sue state universities that have refused to allow Spencer to speak. 

26 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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Last year, Michigan State University refused Padgett’s request to reserve a room for Spencer at the school, citing security concerns after the violence in Charlottesville. Padgett and Bristow sued, and in January, the school settled: Spencer would get to speak, and the university was on the hook for whatever security costs the event would incur.

Padgett has also sued or threatened to sue the University of Cincinnati, Ohio State University, Penn State University, and Kent State University over those schools’ apparent refusal let Spencer speak on campus.

But Bristow, the white nationalist lawyer, threw this planned college tour into disarray this past weekend, when he announced he was stepping away from politics and quitting his position at the Foundation for the Marketplace of Ideas, or FMI. Bristow had founded the FMI and billed it as a kind of American Civil Liberties Union of the far-right.

He had also planned an FMI conference for Sunday night in Detroit, which was set to feature Spencer and other white nationalist figures. But someone leaked the conference’s itinerary to The Detroit Metro Times on Sunday morning. The venue, the Carpathia Club in the suburb of Sterling Heights, canceled after finding out who was coming and consulting with police.

Meanwhile, anti-fascist protesters gathered outside a Holiday Inn Express in the Detroit area where they had heard the white nationalists were staying. (A white nationalist organizer who asked not to be named confirmed to HuffPost that they were, in fact, staying at the hotel.)

A 26-year-old using the name Ouija, who identified as an antifa member from South Bend, Indiana, said he and a group of other anti-fascist activists traveled to Michigan to “show the community and people of color in this community that they have people watching their back and that they have people who care.”

Racists always exist, but now they’re more comfortable, now they’re coming out of the woodwork, and we’re here to put them back into the woodwork and destroy them with every chance that we get,” Ouija said.

Two times, people screaming “Heil Hitler” and “Sieg Heil” drove by, disrupting the rally outside the hotel. A man inside another vehicle simply yelled, “Trump!”

The white supremacists eventually found a new location for their conference Sunday night: Ann Arbor, about an hour’s drive away.

But first, they met in a parking lot outside a sports store, where they coordinated travel to this new secret location.

One young white man, 23, who asked not be identified, told HuffPost this was his first time coming to a white nationalist event. He had been “redpilled” — alt-right lingo for awakening to white supremacist teachings — about three years ago, he said. He added that he’d struggled with drugs and alcohol for a while, but found some solace in the racism and fascism of the alt-right. 

“Basically, it makes me feel part of something bigger than myself and it doesn’t make me feel so alone and so … atomized.”  

“My future isn’t taken into any consideration in politics or basically anything you see in movies and academia, and I kinda really want to see that change, and these are the only people spouting that message,” he said.  

The time came for the white nationalists to move. They got in their cars and drove to their secret location.

A few hours later, anti-fascist activists claimed to have found them at a private residence in Ann Arbor.

The anti-fascist coalition Stop Spencer at MSU issued a statement claiming victory. “They can’t run,” the group said of the white supremacists. “They can’t hide.” 

Andy Campbell contributed reporting.

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  • This article originally appeared on HuffPost.
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