On Thursday afternoon, Richard Spencer will bring his brand of white supremacy to the University of Florida, and authorities aren’t taking any chances. Florida Gov. Rick Scott declared a state of emergency — which has delighted the Nazi provocateur — ahead of the event which was never booked by invitation and has racked up a $600,000 security tab. Not even a local brewing company’s efforts can ease that pain, especially when one factors in the sheer number of protesters expected to greet Spencer and friends.
Reuters reports that over 3,000 people have signed up to attend a “No Nazis at UF” protest before and during Spencer’s speech. Whether or not all planned participants will show remains to be seen, but hundreds of law enforcement officers are already on the scene. University President Ken Fuchs cancelled classes that are scheduled near the venue, and he encourages all students to stay far away from the event. Fuchs also told USA Today that he believes that Spencer’s secretly hoping for violence to occur:
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.”
Fuchs thinks that Spencer will appropriate any violent outbreak in an effort to gain sympathy for his cause. This makes sense, especially after the city of Berkeley saw volatile displays between protesters and counterprotesters after noted far-right troll Milo Yiannopoulos came to town with a message similar to Spencer’s agenda.
And then there was the recent violence in Charlottesville, where a white supremacist murdered Heather Hayer while purposefully driving into a group of counterprotesters after Spencer participated in the Unite the Right march.
All eyes are now on the University of Florida, where USA Today has set up a live stream to monitor protests. And the Florida Highway Patrol has joined local law enforcement to show a visible campus presence in these photos.