Tension continues to build in advance of alt-right activist Richard Spencer’s appearance at the University of Florida Thursday,.
Speaking to reporters after a Cabinet meeting this morning, Attorney General Pam Bondi said “there is no place for espousing these horrible, horrible views.”
Yesterday, Gov. Rick Scott declared a state of emergency in Alachua County. County Sheriff Sadie Darnell said she requested the emergency declaration so she could make sure she had the necessary resources, just in case.
Spencer was one of the key organizers of an August “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Va., that turned deadly when a car plowed into a group of counter-protestors. Heather Heyer, 31, was killed, and dozens were injured.
Appearances by Spencer in other college towns also sparked melees, causing concern by state and local officials who fear similar clashes in Hogtown.
Bondi defended Scott’s emergency declaration when asked if it might worsen an already tense situation.
“This guy’s out there espousing violence and hatred and anger and if we know that he’s going to be doing that, it’s our duty as a state … to have the resources available up front,” she said.
Spencer supporters point the finger at counter-protestors, who’ve pledged to show up en masse on Thursday, as the reason for the precautions.
Cameron Padgett, a Georgia State University student who helped organize Spencer’s speech in Gainesville, posted a video on Twitter yesterday, with an update about how to get tickets for the event at UF’s Phillips Center for the Performing Arts.
The center was originally supposed to distribute the tickets for the 2:30 speech, Padgett said.
But organizers quashed that after learning that tickets could have been turned in for free drinks, or even money, Padgett said in the video.
“It almost seems to me that people don’t want to hear Richard Spencer speak. You know, they’re just words. We’re not even there yet, in Gainesville, at all and they’re already enacting a state of emergency based on protestors already there,” Padgett said. “What’s the state of emergency being enacted on? It’s the protestors that are there at the event, or at the venue right now. So we’re there to peacefully show up and speak, you know, words only, and if you want to debate and engage in a conversation, then I welcome everybody to be there. I think it will be a good event. I have full faith in the police to do whatever they need to do to make sure that the speech is delivered properly and safely.”