White supremacist leader Richard Spencer forced to hold press conference in flat as hotels refuse to take him

'It's a little crowded but this will do' says far-right leader while standing on living room rug

Benjamin Kentish@BenKentish
Tuesday 15 August 2017 15:13
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Richard Spencer apologises for holding press conference in his flat after no hotel would host him

Richard Spencer, the US white supremacist leader, was forced to hold a press conference at his flat after Washington hotels refused to allow him to use their premises.

At least two hotels cancelled the planned event after the location was leaked online.

Mr Spencer was holding the press conference following violent clashes between white supremacist groups and anti-racism protestors in Charlottesville, Virginia, in which a 32-year-old woman, Heather Heyer, was killed.

The Sofitel Hotel and then the Willard Hotel in Washington both cancelled the planned event, according to Buzzfeed - forcing Mr Spencer to hold the event at the apartment he uses as an office and part-time home.

He had earlier asked the selected invitees to keep the location of the briefing secret, but they were both leaked online.

"For everyone’s safety, please do not share this information with any you do not trust," Mr Spencer wrote in an email to attendees.

The events were cancelled after social media users asked others to call the hotels and urge them not to give space to Mr Spencer.

The far-right leader then sent another email saying he had “secured a location in Old Town, Alexandria” – a part of Northern Virginia where he recently moved into a flat.

Asked about his use of the building, he said: "I can live here part time, yes. But this is my office."

The press conference then took place at the flat, in front of a file of books, a large TV screen and a framed poster. Mr Spencer stood on a woven rug while security guards took their places in the kitchen.

He told attendees: "I'm sorry it was such a challenge to get here. I wanted to go to [a location] in DC but it kept getting cancelled. I had to come here where we are totally secure. It's a little crowded but this will do."

The white supremacist said he was not responsible for the violence in Charlottesville and claimed he “absolutely” does not have blood on his hands.

He was present during the “Unite the Right” protest but claims he was not one of its organisers. His name was prominently displayed on leaflets advertising the event.

While condemning violence and promising to “get rid of anyone that thinks that that’s OK”, he said he believed there was a “very good chance” that James Fields, who has been charged with the murder of Ms Heyer after allegedly driving his car into crowds of anti-racism protestors, would be cleared of murder.

Fields could have been “extremely scared” after his car was hit with a bat, he suggested, saying he would “reserve judgement until more facts come out”.

Mr Spencer is President of the National Policy Institute, a think tank that focuses on what it calls the “dispossession of White Americans”. He denies that he is a white supremacist but has called for a white homeland for the “dispossessed white race” and advocated “peaceful ethnic cleansing” in order to protect European culture.

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