The far right leader was addressing students in Florida - an event at which he was largely drowned out - when student journalist Eman Elshahawy asked Mr Spencer about a notorious incident when he was attacked on the street on the day of Donald Trump’s inauguration. Two weeks after Mr Trump’s election victory, Mr Spencer had led a celebratory rally for far right activists where people made Nazi salutes.
During Mr Spencer’s appearance at the University of Florida in Gainesville, where his supporters amounted to around 30, he took questions from the audience, which contained many protesters.
Crowd goes wild when young woman asks Richard Spencer how it felt to get punched in a face pic.twitter.com/Jn9O83FCVd— Christopher Mathias (@letsgomathias) October 19, 2017
Ms Elshahawy, a student journalist who writes for the The Tab, picked up the microphone and said: “I’m Eman. My ethnicity is Egyptian and Puerto Rican. I am a beautiful brown woman here today. My question for you is how did it feel to get punched in the face on camera?”
Video footage of the moment recorded loud cheers from the audience in response to Ms Elshahawy’s question.
Eventually Mr Spencer, who was making his first speech since an August rally in Charlottesville erupted in violence and left one anti-fascist protester dead, was able to respond.
“It hurt. Yeah, it hurts when someone punches you in the face. Is that a real question,” he said, according to the Los Angeles Times.
He added: “What’s the point of such a question? Are you threatening me with violence Do you all want to get your hands dirty? Are you really willing to do something like that, or do you just want to shout self-righteously?”
Ms Elshahawy, 20 who is studying journalist and political science, said most of the journalism she had done had been “traditional”. She said when on issues of civil injustice she felt it was acceptable to ask the kind of question she did.
“I thought it was fair to ask a question like that, at a time like this, of a person like that,” she said.
Ms Elshahawy’s question was the final one to be asked of the far right leader during his 90-minute appearance at the university.
Before he left, he said to the protesters: “You think that you shut me down? Well, you didn’t. You actually even failed at your own game. The world is not going to be proud of you.”
Mr Spencer, 39, who leads a group called the National Policy Institute, was attacked on the afternoon of Mr Trump’s inauguration on January 20 by someone who punched him him in the face as he stood on the corner of 14th and K Street in Washington DC.