Controversies

Hundreds of Texas A&M students protest white nationalist leader's speech

A speech by white nationalist leader Richard Spencer on the campus of Texas A&M University drew hundreds of protesters Tuesday night. 

Some students outside the Memorial Student Center silently held placards, while others chanted, “Ho-ho, hey-hey, Richard Spencer has to go away!” to the beat of drums and tambourines.

Tyler Snell, a reporter for Texas A&M's school newspaper, The Battalion, told Fox News protesters moved inside the venue as attendees arrived.

"Police watched over outside, but they really didn’t get involved until people moved inside and started clogging hallways and chanting," Snell said. 

The protests were peaceful, but videos showed a few tense confrontations that were broken up by police in riot gear. University police said they arrested two non-students.

Videos posted by the newspaper showed many protestors in the hall while Spencer gave his speech, including a group of students who formed a line and held up their fists while Spencer took questions. The questions came from supporters and students who challenged his views and questioned his historical research.

The Associated Press reported that about 400 people were in the room where Spencer was speaking. Those attending the speech had to walk a gantlet of chanting protesters while leaving the hall.

The school announced at 9:15 p.m. that the Memorial Student Center was empty and would reopen Wednesday morning.

"We were fearful of it getting to far out of control," Snell said, "but police handled it [well] in making it civil and making sure everyone was able to voice their opinion."

A short walk away, the school hosted an "Aggies United" event at the football stadium, Kyle Field.

Thousands of students heard speeches from the school’s president, faculty and student leaders, as well as a Holocaust survivor. Attendees also watched performances from student groups and held an impromptu Yell Practice, a staple of Friday night pep rallies during the college football season.

One student said the event did a good job of promoting diversity.

“In the stadium there was a really good vibe. To me being an Aggie is all about including others,” said student Maddy Knesek.

She explained that just about everyone at the school has the same mission and values except for a very small group of people. Knesek also expressed concern that she didn’t want one person’s speech to affect the way the nation sees her school. She wanted people to know they are very inclusive.

“It was very rewarding to know we can come together as Aggies and stand up for what we believe in,” said Knesek.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.