As Gainesville, Florida, braces for a scheduled speaking event to be delivered by Richard Spencer, a local brewery is offering free beer to make sure Spencer speaks to as many empty seats as possible.
Alligator Brewing Co., is offering customers a free beer for every two tickets traded in — all of which they say will be destroyed — creating empty seats for Spencer's speech at the University of Florida on Thursday afternoon.
Florida's Republican Gov. Rick Scott has already declared a state of emergency ahead of the event, in the anticipation of protests.
Spencer, who heads the "alt-right" think tank, National Policy Institute, recently spoke at a torch-lit march in Charlottesville. It marked a return to the same city he helped lead a violent march through with white supremacists and neo-Nazis in August. That march resulted in the murder of a peaceful activist.
In a Facebook message, the brewery wrote that "free speech is a cornerstone of our great nation" but "speech that condones, let alone promotes racial supremacy, has no home in America."
"We unfortunately can’t stop him from bringing his hate to Gainesville, but we can empty the room so his disgusting message goes unheard," the message said. "For every two tickets you bring in, we'll trade you for a free Alligator Brewing draft beer. Those tickets and reserved spots will be disposed of leaving two more empty seats in the Philips Center."
Spencer has pledged to "combat" the brewery's attempt to create empty seats by having his think tank give out tickets in person at Thursday's event, according to the Miami Herald.
"It is their event and the tickets are theirs to distribute," UF spokeswoman Janine Sikes said, adding that NPI chose to distribute the tickets themselves. "There is no violation of policy."
Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi said that Spencer "is out there espousing violence and hatred and anger," according to Florida Politics.
But NPI defended Spencer and said those claims were "complete nonsense."
"And they know it’s nonsense, because they have no substantial or serious response to our message and to our presence and so they’re trying to deal with it by portraying us as violent and hateful," said Evan McLaren, executive director of the D.C.-based think tank. "There’s nothing hateful about what Richard or myself or National Policy Institute expresses."