White nationalist Richard Spencer is scheduled to speak at the University of Florida on Thursday, and authorities are treating him like an approaching hurricane: Gov. Rick Scott has declared a state of emergency in Alachua County, which includes the Gainesville campus where Spencer will speak, the New York Daily News reports. Large protests are expected. In a statement, Scott says that "everyone has the right to voice their opinion," but "we have zero tolerance for violence, and public safety is always our No. 1 priority." University officials say they plan to spend $500,000 on security for the Spencer event, his first at a college since a University of Virginia rally the day before the Charlottesville violence.
Spencer says his followers won't start any violence. He says any altercations will be the fault of "nasty, nasty" anti-fascists. In a statement, the University of Florida said Alachua County Sheriff Sadie Darnell requested the state of emergency, WUFT reports. The university says the measure is not a "response to any specific heightened threat," but "a process that enables various law enforcement agencies to work together more efficiently." University of Florida President Kent Fuchs has emailed the student body to say nobody at the university invited Spencer to speak, and the university is strongly against his "racist speech and white-nationalist values." (Michigan State University is being sued for denying Spencer a chance to speak on campus.)