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Can White Nationalist Richard Spencer Be Ousted From Alexandria?

Posted on Aug 04,2017
Filed Under Local Politics , Politics,

Image via Vas/Flickr, used under Creative Commons

By Emily Leayman

ALEXANDRIA, VA. - For seven months, protesters have tried to drive white nationalist out of Old Town Alexandria. But that has proven to be difficult, reports Washingtonian.

Spencer advocates for white supremacy in the Old Town Alexandria-based National Policy Institute, and protesters gather outside the townhouse regularly.

Fatana Barak, the agent that gave the lease to Spencer, told Washingtonian she did not know who Spencer was when leasing the space. He had already signed the lease when protestors began demanding he leave. (For more information on this and other neighborhood stories, subscribe to Patch to receive daily newsletters and breaking news alerts.)

City officials' hands are tied. Alexandria vice mayor Justin Wilson told Washingtonian, “Clearly we’re disappointed. [But] we cannot kick someone out who has unpopular views.”

Some local residents feel the protests have been played out for too long. “Protesting is not going to make him leave,” real estate agent Jen Walker tells Washingtonian. “I think he gets fuel from it.” She added that it may hurt local business when protesters are crowding in front of stores.

But protester David Hoover counters that continued protests mean more people will know Spencer and what he stands for. "Every time we demonstrate, there are people who walk by who don’t know who he is. My goal is to be sure that we’ve named evil as evil. It is evil what he believes," he told Washingtonian.

Spencer has already been ousted from an Old Town Alexandria gym after a confrontation with a Georgetown professor. In May, C. Christine Fair approached Spencer at Old Town Sport&Health and called him a Nazi. Days later, Spencer confirmed to Buzzfeed with a copy of the gym's termination letter.

A number of Alexandria businesses display signs such as "#Everyone is Welcome" and "#Inclusivealx", but some business owners are on the fence on whether it applies to Spencer. Susanne Mackie, owner of Mackie's Bar and Grill, told WAMU in June, “We are all citizens, participants in this town. It does include literally everyone, but one of the many can’t threaten the peace and stability for the majority."

Dylan Raycroft, who owns a chimney sweeping company, told The Washington Post he tries to stay out of politics but believes Spencer moving into town crosses a line. "There comes a point when you just have to say, ‘Enough is enough,’" he told the newspaper.

Alexandria issued a statement of inclusiveness following Trump's election, and then Spencer moved into the office space in the city. Following the election, he gave a speech chanting "Hail Trump" with the audience, and some attendees appeared to give Nazi salutes. He has also stirred up controversy in other parts of Virginia. In May, Spencer joined white supremacist groups in Charlottesville to protest the city's decision to remove a Robert E. Lee statue from a public park.

Do you think Spencer has a right to live and work in Alexandria? Let us know in the comments.

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