Congressman Ted Yoho, a Republican who represents the Gainesville area, issued a long statement Monday that called on people to boycott Richard Spencer’s talk at the University of Florida. At the same time he criticized “Antifa” counter protesters for “advocating violence and chaos.”
His statement in full:
Richard Spencer, president of a hate group misleadingly named the National Policy Institute, is coming to Gainesville, FL to speak about his support of ethnic nationalism, racial division and white supremacy on October 19, 2017. Antifa, a so-called “anti-fascist” group comprised of radical Marxists and anarchists, is calling on its supporters to come and protest Richard Spencer, advocating violence and chaos in the process.
In our constitutional republic, both sides have a right-and what I feel is a privilege-to espouse their views as guaranteed by the First Amendment to the Constitution. The First Amendment gives individuals the right of free speech, peaceful assembly and protest to promote one’s views. People must be serious about exercising these rights respectfully. You cannot have freedom without responsibility.
Hate groups and groups that promote violence and anarchy have no place in our society. They simply have a self-serving agenda and feed off mob-like participation and divisiveness.
When Richard Spencer comes to Gainesville, I want to ask that all people of differing viewpoints take responsibility for themselves and the groups they have invited to attend the event. It is estimated that this event will cost the University of Florida hundreds of thousands of dollars and Alachua County will have to mobilize hundreds of law enforcement officers, EMT’s, firefighters and paramedics at a cost not yet determined but paid for by the taxpayers of the county.
While these groups exercise their right of free speech and to peaceably assemble, I hope they will have respect for each other’s rights to express their own points of view, and that all will agree to disagree peacefully. Let’s hope they keep in mind the many first responders that are taking time away from their families and at great cost to Alachua County taxpayers for the protection of all parties. Let’s hope these groups take responsibility for their members and that there is no violent behavior. However, if people do engage in violence, I will press state and federal prosecutors to bring charges against malefactors to the fullest extent permitted by law.
As for me, I refuse to be anywhere near this event because Richard Spencer and Antifa’s viewpoints are both morally repugnant. I choose not to offer either of them an audience. Please join me.