White nationalist Richard Spencer is scheduled to give a speech at the University of Florida on Thursday. Governor Rick Scott is using the recent violence associated with the group Spencer represents to issue a state of emergency for Alachua County in preparation for the event.
Gov. Scott’s executive order allows for local law-enforcement authorities to join with state and other agencies to provide security for the engagement. The university has also beefed-up security and says it expects to spend around $500,000 to help foster a safer environment for the program and for the area.
Richard Spencer spoke at the deadly violent August rally in Charlottesville, VA.
Originally, the university rejected Spencer’s request to allow him and his National Policy Institute, a white nationalist organization, to speak on the campus in September.
When the group threatened to sue the school, officials decided to accommodate Spencer on an alternate date.
Alachua County Sheriff, Sadie Darnell, who asked for Scott’s aid, said that they are expecting both supporters of the group as well as protesters. She is hoping the speech will go along without issue, but is making certain that officials are prepared for whatever may occur.
University of Florida President Kent Fuchs has asked students to avoid the campus event. He stated in an email that Spencer and his group seek only “to provoke a reaction.”
Governor Scott has activated the National Guard to help, if needed, with securing the event. In a statement, he said,
“We live in a country where everyone has the right to voice their opinion, however, we have zero tolerance for violence and public safety is always our number one priority.”
Spencer is scheduled to speak at the Phillips Center for Performing Arts at 2:30 p.m. on Thursday. The National Policy Institute, which Spencer leads as president, will pay $10,564 to rent the venue and, at the university’s request, is to distribute tickets only on the day of the event, according to Alligator archives.