Published: Wed, October 18, 2017
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

Florida's Governor Declares State Of Emergency Ahead Of Richard Spencer Speech

Florida's Governor Declares State Of Emergency Ahead Of Richard Spencer Speech

Rick Scott declared a state of emergency for Alachua County on Monday ahead of expected protests around a speech by prominent white supremacist Richard Spencer at the University of Florida.

University officials agreed to allow Richard Spencer, the leader of the National Policy Institute, to speak on campus, after university President Kent Fuchs initially balked at a proposed speaking date last month.

"I appreciate Governor Scott's support and continued concern to the citizens of Alachua County and the State of Florida", Sheriff Darnell said.

Spencer, who is billed as an "alt-right" leader and whose previous appearances have resulted in racially motivated violence, is scheduled to speak on the University of Florida campus Thursday.

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Spencer participated in a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, that led to deadly violence in August.

The speech and accompanying protests are also a major expense: The university as well as state and local agencies expect to spend more than $500,000 to provide additional security. The governor also voiced his willingness to help Sheriff Darnell in any way he can.

In advance of the speech, several protests are being organized by students and local residents to show their displeasure with Spencer speaking at the school.

Gov. Scott released a statement saying in part that Florida has zero tolerance for violence and public safety is always the No. 1 priority. Marco Rubio, are urging students to avoid the event completely.

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"This worries me. I don't get it", Spencer said about Scott's order. In another page hosted by the group, No Nazis at UF says the protests are necessary to counteract Spencer's brand of "white supremacy and fascism". One protester was killed when a white nationalist drove a vehicle into a crowd. Last sprint, Auburn University refused to let Spencer speak on their campus. But Spencer and his group threatened to sue over First Amendment violations, and the school backed down when he renewed his request.

"Mr. Spencer's message is disproportionately hurtful to members of our Gator community who are targets of hate and violence simply due to their skin color, religion, culture, sexual orientation or beliefs", he said.

Fuchs encouraged students and others to shun Spencer.

"We're not even there yet, in Gainesville, at all and they're already enacting a state of emergency based on protesters already there", Padgett said. And it's just going to go fine, and we will have the experience of having this marvelous drill and training opportunity.

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