"I'm at the center of the free speech debate;" Richard Spencer sits down with Mark Spain
ALEXANDRIA, Va. (WSET) -- If you don't know the name Richard Spencer, you likely know some of the controversial events he's associated with.
Whether it's sharing his brand of White Nationalism by marching into Charlottesville with Tiki-torch bearing followers, or lending his support to a rally that ended in violence and death; Richard Spencer is a polarizing figure.
Since he lives in our state, and believes in the Freedom of Speech like we do, I reached out to him for an interview.
He said, yes.
In my exclusive one-on-one, I found a man dedicated to his cause who also wants everyone to know he’s not going away anytime soon.
Most of us have seen the images and heard the chants and witnessed the college campus protests.
The violent scenes from Charlottesville have been shown around the world.
The man orchestrating some of those controversial events works out of a second floor apartment in Alexandria, Virginia.
Confederate monuments and statues have been a big part of the news cycle over the last few months.
"Well, Robert E Lee is a symbol for the Alt-Right," said Spencer.
Spencer is the face of the Alt-Right, a group that supports nationalism over conservatism.
"I am not a Southern Nationalist. I'm an identitarian. And that means I identify with not just White people in the South, but around the country, really around the world," said Spencer.
As president of the National Policy Institute, a white nationalist group, Spencer uses the debate raging across America over the Confederate statues and monuments to help grow the cause.
"We are some of the only ones who are willing to stand up for them in a vigorous, forthright manner. There are the occasional historical societies that want to preserve them. They won't talk about the importance of the statues in this bold way that we do. That's why we've been able to own the issue," remarked Spencer.
Spencer went to the University of Virginia.
It's why he chose Charlottesville as a battleground over heritage.
When the city announced it wanted to remove a statue of Confederate General Robert E Lee from a downtown park, Spencer sensed an opportunity.
He not only wanted to fight to keep it up, but advance a different take on white nationalism.
"The ethno state would be a home for all white people. So this is a state that's kind of ancient in its way but it's also totally new. So it would be a new type of political order," Spencer said.
In August, white supremacists, white nationalists and Neo-Nazis gathered in Charlottesville along with angry counter protesters at the Unite the Right rally.
But this event would be different as violence erupted and a driver plowed into the crowd, killing one person: Heather Heyer.
Richard Spencer was there, but he says the police and Charlottesville Mayor Mike Signer created the disorder by shutting the event down.
"By pushing out all of the peaceful people, Mike Signer and the police and the Governor generated chaos," said Spencer.
He believes they're to blame for Heather Heyer's death, and that the Alt-Right and other groups are not culpable in any way for what happened.
"I’m not going to say something that isn’t true just because that might make people feel better," Spencer said.
The officials in Charlottesville disagree with Spencer's assessment of who's to blame
Spencer promises to continue pushing his White Rights vision at college campuses where Alt-Right recruitment efforts are on the rise.
He promises to lead more torch-light rallies.
His promise is to do whatever he can to advance his cause because he says the First Amendment allows him to, regardless of the damage left behind.
"I'm at the center of the free speech debate precisely because I'm a heretic," said Spencer.
You can watch my entire interview with Spencer below: