Home / National News / Security ramped up for white nationalist Richard Spencer's Florida event


(GAINESVILLE, Fla.) — Police have geared up for protests expected this afternoon on the University of Florida campus where self-described white nationalist Richard Spencer is scheduled to host an event.

Widespread security measures are in place throughout the city of Gainesville, Florida, where the school is located. The added precaution stems partly from Gov. Rick Scott’s Wednesday decision to declare a state of emergency before the event.

The emergency action “enables various law enforcement agencies to work together more efficiently” and call in support from multiple jurisdictions, according to the school’s website.

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Spencer is president of a group called the National Policy Institute, which asked to organize an event on the public campus. The university originally denied his request in September, weeks after the deadly protests in Charlottesville, Virginia, based on safety concerns. But as a state-run entity prohibited from blocking free expression, the school ultimately honored the request, according to its website.

The Gainesville Police Department posted a message on its Facebook page Wednesday, writing “For months, GPD has been preparing a comprehensive safety and security plan for this week.”

“We have been very tight-lipped about our security measures for good reason … and it’s to keep you safe,” the statement reads.

“We won’t get in to exact numbers … but you can rest assured that there are plenty of extra law enforcement officers in town to help in any situation.”

Security costs from for the University of Florida Police Department, Gainesville Police Department, Alachua County Sheriff’s Office, Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Florida Highway Patrol and other agencies total more than $500,000, according to the school website.

School President W. Kent Fuchs has since said the spending is closer to $600,000, The Associated Press reported.

Spencer’s event is slated to start at 2:30 p.m. on Thursday.

The heightened concern about the event stems from the violent protests and counterprotests that prevented his scheduled event in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August. One person died after a car drove into a crowd of protesters and roughly 19 others were injured.

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