After originally denying Richard Spencer’s request to speak on campus, the University of Florida will now host the controversial white nationalist speaker and will deploy hundreds of cops to do so.
According to reports, more than 500 police officers will be present when Spencer speaks at the University of Florida today.
In a statement, University President W. Kent Fuchs said officials have been preparing for Spencer’s speech for weeks and have banned an extensive list of items including torches, masks, umbrellas, and shields. Fuchs also said some students are surprised that they cannot ban hate speech from a public university.
Spencer, one of the most famous “alt-right” speakers in the country, is scheduled to speak at the university’s Phillips Center for the Performing Arts today, October 19.
via NBC News:
“We’ve had a lot of discussions on campus about the First Amendment and free speech,” university President W. Kent Fuchs said in a telephone interview with NBC News. “It’s been surprising to many students that hate speech cannot be banned from a public university.”
The speech comes a little more than two months after a planned rally by members of the “alt-right,” white nationalists and neo-Nazis erupted in deadly violence after a man allegedly drove a car into a crowd of counter-protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia, killing a woman and wounding other people.
“Our eyes have really been opened after Charlottesville, about how much we need to prepare and how much we need to do to make sure everyone is safe on campus,” Fuchs said.
Fuchs said more than 500 police officers would be on campus. Florida Gov. Rick Scott this week issued an executive order declaring a state of emergency for Alachua County, where Gainesville and the university are located.
Furthermore, Fuchs estimated the extra cost in security and other expenses at about $600,000.
Alachua County Sheriff Sadie Darnell said with federal, state and local authorities have developed a comprehensive safety and security plan for Spencer’s speech.
In an interview on Wednesday, Lauren Poe, the mayor of Gainesville, said in an interview that “we’re saddened that it’s here” because Spencer’s type of speech is “contrary to the city’s values.”