Florida gov. declares state of emergency ahead of Richard Spencer speech

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Gov. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) has declared a state of emergency in Alachua County, Florida, in preparation for an upcoming planned speech by white nationalist Richard Spencer.

Less than two months after deadly violence erupted in Charlottesville, Va. between white nationalist "Unite the Right" protesters and counter-protesters, Spencer led a group of about 30 white nationalists in a return to the city earlier this month.

"I find that the threat of a potential emergency is imminent", Scott said in the order, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

Richard Spencer, president of the National Policy Institute, a white supremacist think tank, is a well-known leader of the "alt-right" movement. However, we have zero tolerance for violence and public safety is always our number one priority.

Protests challenging Spencer's rhetoric are scheduled for Thursday.

"I'm not a hurricane or an invading army, at least not literally", he said during a telephone interview Monday.

A state of emergency over a speech? Scott placed Wes Maul, the recently-promoted 29-year-old interim state emergency management director, as the state coordinating officer "for the duration of this emergency", including giving Maul the authority to deploy law enforcement officers and to suspend state laws if necessary.

"That was basically a means for suppressing the rally", Spencer claimed.

Scott made the designation for Alachua County, where the school is located, upon request by Sheriff Sadie Darnell.

Scott said violence by any side will not be tolerated.

UF officials originally denied Spencer's request on September 12 due to the potential violence and risk on campus and the community, following a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. Darnell said now they are expecting both protesters and counterprotesters to show up in connection to Spencer's appearance. "But in the reality of this world we have to be well prepared".

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