2017 Auburn Riot

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The 2017 Auburn riot describes a minor disturbance involving three arrests that resulted from the appearance of Richard B. Spencer, an alt-right speaker, at Auburn University. [1]


The university originally planned on cancelling Spencer's speech, saying that it presented a danger to the students and facility. [2] However, a judge ruled that Spencer was protected to speak under the 1st Amendment [3] Spencer wrote in response that it "was on", on his personal Twitter account, encouraging alt-right members to attend. [4][5][6] It was reported that multiple signs were posted warning students not to attend protests, due to the risk of violence from far-left protestors. [7] Several conservative speakers, although disagreeing with a substantial amount of Spencer's ideology, defended him speaking at the university, with them describing the necessary aspects of free speech, even if they are politically unpopular. [7]

"While Mr. Spencer's beliefs and message are controversial, Auburn presented no evidence that Mr. Spencer advocates violence," U.S. District Court judge William Keith Watkins wrote, holding it to be protected. [8] The speech blasted ethnic diversity in society. [9]

Pictured: Richard B. Spencer


A large crowd of people begun at around 6:30 PM to protest the speech, along with multiple arrests and injuries.[7][10][11] By 8:00 PM, a "massive crowd" begun to form, with the count unknown. [12]

Supporters and ANTIFA members begun to verbally get into shouting matches with each other, which lead to small-scale fighting. [13]


During the speech, it was reported that the 400 seats were nearly full. [13]


Geoffrey R. Stone, writing in the New York Times, agreed with the judge, and remarked that Spencer's speech was constitutionally protected under the 1st Amendment. [14]

Spencer remarked that it was a "great victory for the alt-right". [10]



  1. "A Judge Ruled That White Nationalist Richard Spencer Can Speak At Auburn University Tonight" (in en). BuzzFeed. https://www.buzzfeed.com/juliareinstein/richard-spencer-auburn. 
  2. "White supremacist Richard Spencer still plans to speak at Auburn University Tuesday" (in en-US). AL.com. http://www.al.com/news/index.ssf/2017/04/white_supremacist_richard_spen.html. 
  3. "Judge issues order requiring Auburn to host Richard Spencer speech on campus Tuesday night" (in en-US). AL.com. http://www.al.com/news/index.ssf/2017/04/judge_issues_order_requiring_a.html. 
  4. "Richard 🇸🇾 Spencer on Twitter" (in en). Twitter. https://twitter.com/RichardBSpencer/status/854443903570857985. 
  5. Harriot, Michael. "Auburn University Bars White Nationalist Richard Spencer but He Vows to Speak Anyway" (in en-US). The Root. http://www.theroot.com/auburn-university-bars-white-nationalist-richard-spence-1794416233. 
  6. [email protected], Troy Turner | Editor Opelika-Auburn News. "UPDATED 4:30 P.M. WITH AUBURN UNIVERSITY STATEMENT on court ruling allowing use of Foy Hall: Protests planned: Tensions rise as groups plan to converge on Auburn" (in en). OANow.com. http://www.oanow.com/news/auburn/protests-planned-tensions-rise-as-groups-plan-to-converge-on/article_74c38574-23bc-11e7-b1ae-2f4e76775b88.html. 
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 "Violence, arrests at Auburn as Richard Spencer speech draws protests [VIDEO, LIVE UPDATES"] (in en-US). AL.com. http://www.al.com/news/index.ssf/2017/04/violence_arrests_already_as_ri.html. 
  8. CNN, Brandon Griggs. "Auburn University braces for speech by white nationalist". http://www.cnn.com/2017/04/18/politics/auburn-richard-spencer-protests/index.html. 
  9. "Eliott C. McLaughlin on Twitter" (in en). https://twitter.com/EliottCNN/status/854513573816676352. 
  10. 10.0 10.1 "Activist bloodied in brawl at protest ahead of white supremacist’s Auburn University speech" (in en-US). http://www.rawstory.com/2017/04/activist-bloodied-in-brawl-at-protest-ahead-of-white-supremacists-auburn-university-speech/. 
  11. "A Judge Ruled That White Nationalist Richard Spencer Can Speak At Auburn University Tonight" (in en). BuzzFeed. https://www.buzzfeed.com/juliareinstein/richard-spencer-auburn. 
  12. Firozi, Paulina (2017-04-18). "White nationalist draws protests at Auburn speech". TheHill. http://thehill.com/homenews/news/329420-white-nationalist-draws-massive-protests-at-auburn-university-speech. 
  13. 13.0 13.1 News, ABC. "White nationalist Spencer speaks to packed room at Auburn" (in en). ABC News. http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/suit-seeks-white-nationalist-speech-auburn-46864589. 
  14. Stone, Geoffrey R. (2017-04-18). "Richard Spencer’s Right to Speak at Auburn". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/18/opinion/richard-spencers-right-to-speak-at-auburn.html.