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Why I'm Attending the Protest to Speak out against Richard Spencer at UF

October 19, 2017
By Chris King

I was raised to take care of my neighbors, to help those in need, and to stand up for what’s right.

I have been deeply saddened and troubled by the white supremacist, neo-Nazi rhetoric on the rise around the country. I have been similarly troubled by President Trump’s inability and unwillingness to stand forcefully against them. But we are not helpless when faced with hate. We can call it out and address it. We can respond with a stronger and louder message of tolerance, acceptance and love.

Candidates for public office have both the opportunity and the obligation to speak out about difficult issues. I’ve called for the relocation of Confederate monuments from public spaces in Florida. I’ve called out white supremacy as it has emerged around the country. I’ve denounce bigotry and prejudice against the LGBTQ community, the Muslim American community and the Jewish community. I’ve advocated policies to end discrimination and lift up marginalized groups in Florida.

But I’ve also noted that words, thoughts, and prayers alone sometimes aren’t enough. Sometimes actions speak louder than words. This is one of those times. This is why I’m attending the rally at the University of Florida on Thursday to physically take a stand against hate in America.

To be clear, I feel strongly that we must always protect the right to free speech guaranteed to everyone in the Constitution. White supremacist Richard Spencer says horrible things, but our freedom of speech protects even those with whom we do not agree. Our answer must not be to silence, but to drown out hate speech with acceptance. We have a responsibility to speak up for justice, equality, and peace.

While Richard Spencer represents a fringe minority, we cannot allow it to go unaddressed. We address the hate and bigotry not just because we have a moral imperative to do so, but also because this dangerous agenda is holding us back from making progress that will serve the needs of all Americans.

Many have argued that we defeat Richard Spencer’s hate speech by ignoring it. I believe we do not solve problems by turning away and hoping they disappear. Likewise, we do not end racism and bigotry by pretending we can’t hear it or see it. In a time when the leader of our country refuses to condemn these hate groups, we need leaders who will step up and speak out and make it clear that hate and bigotry will not be tolerated in our communities — not now, not ever.

So I’m going straight to the source to speak out as loudly as I can. I invite those who are able to join me in Gainesville. And I invite those who can’t to join me virtually at