A brewery in Gainesville, Florida has cooked up an ingenious plan to undermine a speech by white nationalist Richard Spencer at the nearby University of Florida on Thursday. Alligator Brewing Co. is offering free beers to customers who acquire and hand over tickets to the event tomorrow; the tickets will then be disposed of immediately. The team from the brewery hopes that this deal will help shrink the crowd before the event gets started.
In an Instagram post from last Thursday, the Alligator crew noted: “This is our town. This is our community. And this is how we’re going to shut. Him. Down.”
After catching wind of this plot to hobble their gathering, Spencer and his crew changed the ticketing system to prevent people from getting the free passes before the day of the event. This move did not deter the Alligator squad, though. The brewery issued an update on Facebook that reads: “We continue to stand by our pledge and will support our community of unity, peace, and strength. #lesshatemorebeer.”
The University of Florida actually denied Spencer’s original request to speak on campus, but a local lawyer by the name of Gary Edinger threatened to sue on First Amendment grounds. The argument here is that because the school is a public institution, the University of Florida does not get to approve or deny speakers based on their viewpoints. Clay Calvert, a First Amendment expert at the university, tells the NYT: “The University of Florida can’t say we like country music, but we don’t like alternative music — or in this case, we like diversity, but we don’t like Richard Spencer’s message.” University of Florida’s president Kent Fuchs posted a YouTube video urging students to stay away from the event, and Governor Rick Scott even declared a state of emergency to get more law enforcement presence in the area on Thursday.
No matter what happens, Alligator Brewing Co. will be open on Thursday for anyone who wants to sip a beer among local residents who want nothing to do with Spencer and his followers.
• A Florida Brewery Is Giving Free Beer to Anyone Protesting Richard Spencer [Esquire]
• A Gainesville brewery was trying to block hate with beer. Not so fast, Richard Spencer says [Miami Herald]
• University of Florida Braces for Richard Spencer [NYT]