Steve Bousquet, Tampa Bay Times, October 16, 2017
Gov. Rick Scott on Monday declared a state of emergency in Alachua County three days ahead of a scheduled speech at the University of Florida campus in Gainesville by the white nationalist Richard Spencer.
“I find that the threat of a potential emergency is imminent,” Scott said in a seven-page executive order.
Opponents of Spencer’s visit have a Facebook account, No Nazis at UF, that includes a statement critical of school leaders for allowing Spencer to visit the campus.
Spencer’s UF appearance comes two months after a weekend of violence at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville marked by brawls between white racists and protesters. A woman was killed when a man drove his truck through a crowd of demonstrators.
UF President Kent Fuchs has urged students not to attend Spencer’s talk, but to “speak up for your values and the values of our university.”
In a statement, Scott said: “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’s order noted that prior speeches by Spencer in Virginia, Alabama, California and Texas “have sparked protests and counter-protests resulting in episodes of violence, civil unrest and multiple arrests.”