White nationalist Richard Spencer is scheduled to speak at the University of Florida on Thursday, and Florida Gov. Rick Scott declared a state of emergency in advance, citing the clashes that have erupted at Spencer’s past events on college campuses.
Scott warned that the “threat of a potential emergency is imminent” in an executive order Monday, mobilizing state, regional and local law enforcement agencies to coordinate and prepare for potential security issues.
“This measure, which came at the request of Alachua County Sheriff Sadie Darnell, is not in response to any specific heightened threat,” the University of Florida said. “It is a process that enables various law enforcement agencies to work together more efficiently.”
The governor’s executive order cited Spencer’s previous events at universities in Alabama, Texas and Virginia that have led to “episodes of violence, civil unrest and multiple arrests.”
Here’s what has happened during Spencer’s other university events over the past year and what to expect this week at the University of Florida:
University of Virginia
In August, Spencer organized the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Va., that began with white nationalists marching with torches onto the University of Virginia’s campus and ended the next day with deadly clashes between protesters and counter-protesters. Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe declared a state of emergency during the protests.
Spencer returned to Charlottesville this month for another rally with torch-carrying white nationalists.
Three people were arrested on charges of disorderly conduct when clashes broke out over Spencer’s visit to Alabama’s Auburn University in April.
The university had tried to cancel the speech due to safety concerns, but a federal judge reversed the school’s cancellation and said there was no evidence Spencer advocated for violence, the Washington Post reported.
“Discrimination on the basis of message content cannot be tolerated under the First Amendment,” the judge wrote.
Texas A&M University
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SOURCE: TIME – Katie Reilly