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Monday, October 16, 2017

Rick Scott declares emergency before white supremacist Richard Spencer's UF speech

Posted By on Mon, Oct 16, 2017 at 2:35 PM

Gov. Rick Scott has declared a state of emergency days before white supremacist Richard Spencer gives a speech at the University of Florida.

Scott's executive order is for Alachua County, which is home to Gainesville, the city where UF is located. Spencer's rally is planned for Thursday. Oct. 19.

"Prior speaking engagements involving Mr. Spencer at universities in Alabama, California, Texas and Virginia have sparked protests and counter-protests resulting in episodes of violence, civil unrest and multiple arrests," Scott writes in the order. "I find that the threat of a potential emergency is imminent."

The order allows state law enforcement officials to help local police's response to the rallies planned on the UF campus on Thursday and quickly coordinate resources between agencies.

"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 says in a 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."

UF officials initially opposed Spencer's appearance after a deadly white supremacist rally two months ago in Charlottesville, where Heather Heyer, 32, was killed when a driver plowed his car into a group of counter-protesters. UF expects to pay at least $500,000 for increased security at the event.

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