Fla. gov. declares state of emergency for Richard Spencer speech

Richard Spencer talks to the media during the Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Md., on February 23. Florida Gov. Rick Scott declared a state of emergency over safety concerns during his upcoming scheduled speech at the University of Florida in Gainesville. File Photo by Molly Riley/UPI

Oct. 17 (UPI) — Florida Gov. Rick Scott on Monday declared a state of emergency ahead of a planned appearance by white nationalist Richard Spencer at University of Florida.

Scott made the designation for Alachua County, where the school is located, upon request by Sheriff Sadie Darnell.

Spencer, designated a white nationalist by the Southern Poverty Law Center and head of the white nationalist think tank National Policy Institute, was scheduled to speak Thursday in Gainesville.

“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,” Scott said in a statement. “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.”

In August, UF rejected a request by Spencer to rent space on its grounds to host an event in September, citing possible violence.

“I find the racist rhetoric of Richard Spencer and white nationalism repugnant and counter to everything the university and this nation stands for,” UF President Kent Fuchs said at the time.


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