The president of the University of Florida said white supremacist Richard B. Spencer wants the speech he will deliver Thursday to spark violence that will gain sympathy for the alternative right movement he represents.
Spencer and his supporters will thrive on any confrontation brought by anti-fascist protesters, warned university President Kent Fuchs. They hope to provoke the same violent clashes that broke out during an August rally in Charlottesville, Va., that left one woman dead.
“Now, for the first time in the history of our nation, very different racist groups are coming together under one person who speaks their language and their words and speaks their views on racism and white supremacy,” Fuchs said. “They’re coming to campus with the intentions of confrontation and with the intention of having all of us repeat their view on the world.”
Alt-right refers to a loosely defined group whose far-right ideology includes racism, populism and white nationalism.
Organizers for Spencer’s speech further complicated security arrangements by planning to wait until an hour and a half before the event to distribute tickets. Only people who look like alt-right supporters will be among the 700 people allowed inside the Phillips Center for the Performing Arts.
“They’re picking and choosing — it definitely isn’t us,” said Alachua County (Fla.) Sheriff’s Sgt. Chris Sims. “They are the requester of the event and these tickets belong to them, but yes, it’s absolutely a safety concern.”
Cameron Padgett, an organizer for Spencer’s National Policy Institute, said people who disagree with Spencer’s racist rhetoric planned to receive tickets from the university and then throw them away. At least one bar also offered to trade the tickets for booze.
“There’s only so many tickets we’re allowed to have for the event, so it didn’t make sense to let that happen,” said Padgett.
Regardless of when the tickets are distributed, Padgett said security isn’t his problem. That’s on law enforcement.
“I don’t say that’s going to create a security issue — that’s their job,” said Padgett, who suggested there might be trouble from anti-fascist groups, also known as Antifa. “If Antifa wants to show up and make it a security issue then start arresting them and do your job.”
The potential for violence at the event was enough for Alachua County Sheriff Sadie Darnell to ask Florida Gov. Rick Scott to declare a state of emergency. The order Scott issued Monday allows Darnell to call on specialized security teams from across the state. It also places the Florida National Guard on standby.
Fuchs said his university is the first to host one of Spencer’s speeches after the deadly rally in Charlottesville. Along with the University of Florida, Padgett also applied for Spencer to speak at Ohio State University and the University of Cincinnati.
U.S. Supreme Court case law upholds his right to speak, Fuchs said.
SOURCE: Arek Sarkissian
Naples (Fla.) Daily News