POLITICS

Gainesville Mayor On Richard Spencer: 'There's No Question That He Is A Terrorist Leader'

His frank assessment comes as Spencer prepares to give a speech at the University of Florida.

10/19/2017 13:04 EDT | Updated 10/19/2017 17:14 EDT

President Donald Trump says some white supremacist protesters are “very fine people.” Lauren Poe (D), the mayor of Gainesville, Florida, has another word for them: terrorists.

Poe used the term to describe white supremacist leader Richard Spencer in an interview with HuffPost Thursday morning, ahead of a speech Spencer plans to give at the University of Florida later in the day.

“There’s no question that he is a terrorist leader and that his followers look to commit acts of terror to disrupt our community,” Poe said.

“And we know that because they’ve told us that,” he elaborated. “These are not my impressions of what they might be doing, it’s clear they look to descend upon communities, harm people and then leave, and those are the acts of terrorists.”

They look to descend upon communities, harm people and then leave, and those are the acts of terrorists.

The university is legally obligated to permit Spencer to give the speech, regardless of how much of a disturbance it causes at both the school and in broader Gainesville.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) has taken the unusual move of declaring a state of emergency ahead of the event, and the school itself has been forced to pre-emptively spend $500,000 on security.

Poe encouraged Gainesville residents Thursday to go about their business and give Spencer as small a platform as possible.

“In an interview [Spencer] did with CNN just last night he was proudly comparing himself to the destructive forces of hurricanes and other natural disasters,” Poe explained. “He absolutely intends to create terror in people and that’s his tactic. 

“We need to live our life as normal and not let this disrupt us, because that’s what terrorists do, they want you to disrupt your life, they want to get into your psyche and make you afraid to live a normal, free life. And we can’t let that happen.”