Gov. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) has declared a state of emergency in Alachua County, Florida, in preparation for an upcoming planned speech by white supremacist Richard Spencer.
A state of emergency over a speech? What gives?
Spencer is scheduled to speak Thursday at the University of Florida in Gainesville, and Scott said the decision was a proactive move based on the history of Spencer's past speeches having "sparked protests and counterprotests resulting in episodes of violence, civil unrest and multiple arrests."
"I find that the threat of a potential emergency is imminent,” Scott wrote in the seven-page executive order.
What will the state of emergency executive order do?
The order will activate the state's Mutual Aid Plan to allow state and local law enforcement agencies to coordinate their resources. It will also give state agencies the power to suspend rules and regulations. It will also allow Scott to spend surplus money as he deems necessary.
"We live in a country where everyone has the right to voice their opinion. However, we have zero tolerance for violence and public safety is always our No. 1 priority. I have been in constant contact with Sheriff [Sadie] Darnell who has requested this Executive Order to ensure that county and local law enforcement have every needed resource. This executive order is an additional step to ensure that the University of Florida and the entire community is prepared so everyone can stay safe," Scott said in a statement.
Who is Richard Spencer?
Richard Spencer, president of the National Policy Institute, a white supremacist think tank, is a well-known leader of the "alt-right" movement. Spencer led the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, that resulted in the death of a young woman and left 19 others injured after violence broke out between the protesters and counterprotesters.