Governor Rick Scott (R-Fla.) has declared a state of emergency in Alachua County, Florida, in preparation for an upcoming planned speech by Richard Spencer.
Richerd Spencer is expected to speak Thursday at the University of Florida in Gainesville, and Governor Scott said the decision was a proactive move based on the history of Spencer’s previous speeches having “sparked protests and counter-protests resulting in episodes of violence, civil unrest and multiple arrests.”
“I find that the threat of a potential emergency is imminent,” Scott wrote in the seven-page executive order.
What will the state of emergency executive order do?
The executive order will activate the state’s Mutual Aid Plan to allow state and local law enforcement agencies to coordinate their resources. It will also give state agencies the power to suspend rules and regulations. It will also allow Scott to spend surplus money as he deems necessary.
“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 No. 1 priority. I have been in constant contact with Sheriff [Sadie] 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,” Governor Scott said in a statement.
Who exactly is Richard Spencer?
Richard Spencer, president of the National Policy Institute, a white supremacist think tank, is a well-known leader of the “alt-right” movement.
Richard Spencer was one of the leaders of the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, that resulted in the death of a young woman and left 19 others injured after violence broke out between the protesters and counterprotesters.
Scott said in a statement that everyone has a right to voice their opinions.
But, he said, “we have zero tolerance for violence and public safety is always our number one priority.”
“I have been in constant contact with Sheriff [Sadie] Darnell who has requested this Executive Order to ensure that county and local law enforcement have every needed resource,” Scott said in the statement.
“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,” he said.
In August, the University of Florida rejected a request to rent space made by a group helmed by Spencer, citing safety concerns.
Earlier this month, Spencer led a group of about 30 white nationalists in Charlottesville, Va.
He announced the return — which came less than two months after violence erupted in the town between “Unite the Right” protesters and counterprotesters — on a live stream on Twitter.
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“The left wing establishment is built around anti-white policies,” Spencer told the group.
In Charlottesville, the group also chanted “The South will rise again” and “Russia is our friend.”
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