Florida declares state of emergency for Nazi’s campus speech
Poorly dressed white nationalist Richard Spencer is scheduled to speak Thursday on University of Florida’s campus (details for when and where to punch him can be found here), and in preparation of the event, Florida Governor Rick Scott has declared a state of emergency.
“We live in a country where everyone has the right to voice their opinion,” Scott said in a statement. “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.”
Scott’s order permits Florida’s emergency director to suspend laws and deploy state, county, and municipal police officers to Gainesville. It also allows the university to recoup fees it plans to spend on security measures, estimated to total over $500,000.
More than 2,700 people have pledged on the Facebook event “No Nazis at UF” to protest Spencer’s appearance, despite UF’s president urging students to ignore him. (Spencer wasn’t invited to campus, but was allowed to rent space after he threatened to sue.) Students have accused the school of trying to suppress their right to protest.
“While the university bends over backwards to make sure that neo-Nazis can meet,” protest organizers wrote on Facebook, “peaceful anti-fascist protesters have received a deluge of emails and public statements from UF and Gainesville officials who have discouraged us from exercising our first amendment rights to assembly and free speech.”
Several dozen students held a press conference Monday to invite Gainesville citizens to participate in the demonstration.
“If Richard Spencer were to come on Thursday and speak unopposed, it would only embolden him and his supporters to further advance and mainstream political fear,” Timothy Chia, co-chair of UF’s Young Democratic Socialists chapter, said. “We cannot let this happen.”
Seems like it would’ve been easier for University of Florida to just tell Spencer to fuck off. The school couldn’t dump its legal fees on the state, though. Cops enlisted as a Nazi’s personal security detail, though, now that’s something Rick Scott will pay for.