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Protesters Demand Change Ahead Of Spencer Visit

Protesters with the group "No Nazis At UF " are demanding that university officials change the banned items list for white nationalist Richard Spencer’s event Thursday.

Following a press conference Monday morning, protesters marched from the Plaza of the Americas to the doors of the University of Florida's administrative building, Tigert Hall, to voice their wants and concerns.

They chanted, "We're going to talk with the president! We're going to talk with the president!"

After they knocked on the front door of Tigert for about 15 minutes and the lead organizer of the group spoke with someone on the phone, senior vice president Charlie Lane and vice president of student affairs David Parrott briefly came out to hear the protesters’ concerns.

The two UF officials said they would relay any message and concerns the protesters had to president Kent Fuchs.

“We request that you significantly restrict the prohibited items list to only include items that provide a clear danger to members of the community,” said the lead organizer of No Nazis At UF Chad, who asked to not disclose his last name. “All of us and many, many more of us will be protesting and your job as a university is to protect us, not to protect them."

University and law enforcement officials are prohibiting a number of items in protest areas for safety reasons, such as backpacks, bicycles and water bottles of any kind.

Protesters and local attorneys working with the "No Nazis At UF" group said the university needs to allow protesters to carry items like water and backpacks.

"One of the concerns from a health and safety perspective is that people need to have water,” said Florida Legal Services attorney Andrea Costello, whose law firm threatened to sue UF last week over the banned items. “People were out here protesting [Monday] and it's incredibly hot. That creates a real safety risk for people who are going to be there."

Despite the protesters’ march to Tigert Hall, UF spokeswoman Janine Sikes said they won't change anything on the banned items list for safety reasons.

"We consulted with Texas A&M, Charlottesville, as well as Berkeley, and our prohibited items list is very similar to the prohibited items lists in those areas," Sikes said. “This was a list created by law enforcement because of security concerns.”

Florida Legal Services told WUFT News that there will be multiple attorneys on scene for Spencer’s event Thursday to ensure protesters are not wrongfully arrested.

Spencer is scheduled to speak at the Curtis Phillips Center for the Performing Arts Thursday from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m.

Ramsey is a reporter for WUFT who can be reached by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news@wuft.org.