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Florida declares emergency before white nationalist's speech at the University

19 October 2017

Spencer was to be a featured speaker at the white-nationalist rally the next morning, but it was canceled due to security concerns.

The University of Florida plans on spending $500,000 to "enhance security on campus" and in Gainesville, Florida, for white nationalist Richard Spencer's speaking event Thursday.

Many students claim they will be protesting peacefully outside of the Phillips Center where Spencer is scheduled to speak.

Kent Fuchs said Wednesday in an interview with The Associated Press that Spencer is "hijacking" public universities - which are compelled by the First Amendment to provide a speaking forum - and forcing taxpayers to pay the resulting security costs.

Some students said they planned to avoid campus Thursday, and others planned to tune in to alternative programming, such as the virtual assembly that student leaders are conducting with a message of diversity and unity. However, it can not pass along the balance of these costs - enough to pay the annual tuitions of about 75 undergraduate students, according to university estimates - to him under a 1992 U.S. Supreme Court free-speech ruling.

The Southern Poverty Law Center calls Richard Spencer's National Policy Institute a hate group.

Referring to an August rally in Charlottesville, Virginia where Spencer's magical alt-right incantations caused a police helicopter to unexplainably fall out of the sky and a vehicle to ram into a crowd of peaceful baseball bat-carrying Black Lives Matter "protesters", Governor Scott stated that Spencer has previously "sparked protests and counter-protests resulting in episodes of violence, civil unrest, and multiple arrests".

Campus communists at the University of Florida Gainesville have been going ballistic in response to the news.

"I fully understand freedom of speech can not be burdened legally with the full cost of this, but on the other hand we're being burdened", said Fuchs, sitting in his office on campus in Gainesville.

In the statement from Pinto, he said that the university will work with local, state and federal law enforcement agencies to implement a comprehensive plan for safety and security.

"That money should be used for scholarships, more research or stay with the taxpayers".

Speech also protected Thursday will be speech against Spencer.

If there is a silver lining in Spencer's appearance at the school, Fuchs said, it is that it has led to "many good discussions about race, white supremacy and the First Amendment".

After violence followed a Charlottesville rally, several public universities, including UF, announced that they would not allow Spencer to speak on campus, citing imminent threats. After they threatened to sue, school officials said they would try to accommodate Spencer if he renewed his request for a different date.

University President Kent Fuchs urged students not to attend the event and denounced Spencer's white nationalism. He wrote in an email that Spencer and his group seek only "to provoke a reaction". Darnell said now they are expecting both protesters and counterprotesters to show up in connection to Spencer's appearance. UF spokeswoman Janine Sikes told TPM the school is "prepared for many and we're hopeful for few".

"We do have a really strong Jewish and pro-Israel base, so I have a lot of confidence in our students, but I am anxious for their safety, and the anti-Israel and anti-Jewish movement that could arise from this", said Gorshein, who serves as president of the Israel advocacy group Gators for Israel and sits on the Hillel student board.

Florida declares emergency before white nationalist's speech at the University