Florida is gearing up for Richard Spencer’s visit.
The white nationalist is due to give a speech at the University of Florida on Thursday, and in preparation, Florida Governor Rick Scott has declared a state of emergency.
In a prepared statement, Scott explained that, “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. I have been in constant contact with Sheriff Darnell who has requested this Executive Order to ensure that county and local law enforcement have every needed resource. This executive order is an additional step to ensure that the University of Florida and the entire community is prepared so everyone can stay safe.”
According to Scott’s seven page executive order, the precautions are being taken due to protests and instances of violence following Spencer’s appearances in Virginia, Alabama, California, and Texas. Scott therefore warned that the “threat of a potential emergency is imminent.”
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The declaration is intended to help law enforcement maintain law and order to avoid the violent results seen following Spencer’s other speeches. It will allow the coordination of local and state law enforcement to provide security for the event, which is already expected to cost the university more than $500,000 in security fees. The Florida National Guard will also be activated to help with security if needed.
Spencer was a participant in the violent white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August. He was also a featured speaker at another rally in Charlottesville earlier this month, according to The New York Times and other outlets.
While the University of Florida initially blocked Spencer from speaking, as a state institution, the University is not able to limit free speech. According to Quartz, this includes hate speech, meaning that UF had no choice but to allow Spencer to rent out space.