Gov. Scott Declares State of Emergency Over White Nationalist Speech at UF

"We have zero tolerance for violence and public safety is always our number one priority," Scott said

Ahead of a speech by a white nationalist leader at the University of Florida, Gov. Rick Scott has declared a state of emergency to direct resources to ensure Gainesville's safety.

Scott signed the Law Enforcement Coordination executive order following a request from Alachua County Sheriff Sadie Darnell in anticipation of the Thursday event.

The order allows Darnell to quickly "coordinate resources from other state, county and municipal law enforcement agencies," Scott's office said in a statement, adding the governor will maintain in constant communication with security officials to ensure "every request to the state is quickly granted to keep the public safe."

The Southern Poverty Law Center describes Spencer as: "one of the country’s most successful young white nationalist leaders – a suit-and-tie version of the white supremacists of old, a kind of professional racist in khakis."

The SPLC points to a 2014 column Spencer wrote for the National Policy Institute — the white nationalist think tank he led at the time — in which he wrote that "immigration is a kind of proxy war — and maybe a last stand — for White Americans, who are undergoing a painful recognition that, unless dramatic action is taken, their grandchildren will live in a country that is alien and hostile."

UF officials reluctantly granted Spencer permission to speak.

However, UF President Kent Fuchs has urged his students to "avoid the event" and to "not let the message of hate and racism go unchallenged."

Protests challenging Spencer's rhetoric are scheduled for Thursday.

Scott said violence by any side will not be tolerated.

“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 said in a statement.

"I have been in constant contact with Sheriff Darnell, who has requested this Executive Order to ensure that county and local law enforcement have every needed resource," he continued. "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.”

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