The notorious white nationalist Richard Spencer’s mother disagrees with his racist views — but her neighbors want her to prove it.
The founder of the so-called “alt-right” movement has moved from the political fringes to something approaching mainstream notoriety since the election of Donald Trump, but recent newspaper and magazine profiles have made residents of his part-time home aware of Spencer and his views, reported KTMF-TV.
Spencer lives part of the year in Whitefish, Montana, where his parents live and his mother owns property.
“As parents, we deeply love our son, as we always will,” Sherry Spencer told the TV station in an email. “We unequivocally do not agree with the extreme positions espoused by Richard.”
Although she may disagree with his racist views, Sherry Spencer allows her son to list the property she owns as the principle office location for his pseudo-academic National Policy Institute, the TV station reported.
That doesn’t sit well with Tanya Gersh, a local realtor and wedding planner, and civil rights groups.
“She is profiting off of the people of the local community, all the while having facilitated Richard’s work spreading hate by letting him live and use her home address for his organization,” Gersh said.
Sherry Spencer rents out vacation residences on the building’s top floor and leases businesses on the ground floor, but she said the unwanted attention on her business and her son may force her to sell the property located in the city’s historic downtown.
Her commercial tenants say the white nationalist association to the building, which Richard Spencer and his mother built two years ago, is hurting their business.
Sherry Spencer blames a local human rights organization for forcing her to consider selling her downtown property.
“We are stunned by the actions of Love Lives Here, an organization claiming to advocate tolerance and equal treatment of all citizens, yet causing financial harm to many innocent parties,” Sherry Spencer told the TV station.
However, the group’s co-founder dismissed her claims.
“I don’t know what she’s talking about,” said activist Ina Albert. “We don’t cause financial harm to anybody.”
Whitefish residents tried in 2014 to get City Council to pass an anti-hate speech ordinance they hoped would prevent Spencer and his group from holding conferences in the town, but free speech concerns kept the measure from moving forward.
Albert said she doesn’t care that Richard Spencer spends part of the year in Whitefish, where he likes to ski and hike — but she’s not happy the city is “smeared” by its link to his National Policy Institute.
Gersh, however, thinks Sherry Spencer could prove she disagreed with her son’s ideology by ending her business link to his organized hate group.
“(She) could address this by selling the building, making a donation to human rights efforts, and making a statement in opposition to white supremacist ideas spread by Richard,” Gersh said.