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Richard Spencer’s White Nationalist Speech to Cost UF $500K

University of Florida officials expect protests on the day Richard Spencer is on campus.

The upcoming speech by white nationalist Richard Spencer at the University of Florida will cost the school at least $500,000 in security costs, campus officials say.

Spencer’s controversial speech will take place at 2:30 p.m. on Thursday, October 19. UF officials say they are not planning on cancelling classes, reports the Palm beach post.

“We understand that this event and possible protest provokes fear, especially for members of our Gator family who are targets of messages of hate and violence simply because of their skin color, religion, culture, sexual orientation or beliefs,” read a message on the new University of Florida webpage for the event, freespeech.ufl.edu. “Faculty have been asked to be understanding with students on a case-by-case basis. However, faculty should not cancel classes without consulting with their dean.”

The security costs will support efforts by the University of Florida Police Department, the Gainesville Police Department, the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the Florida Highway Patrol and other law enforcement agencies.

The university has also prohibited attendees and protesters from bringing a number of items to the event, including:

  • Weapons, firearms, or simulated firearms, tasers, knives, starp objects
  • Lighters, matches, torches or open flame
  • Any athletic equipment or other items which could be used as a weapon
  • Masks of any kind, goggles, bandanas/scarfs, neck gaiters
  • Flag poles, bats, clubs, sticks
  • Aerosol/pressurized cans/mace
  • Chains, padlocks, bicycle locks
  • Shields
  • Fireworks
  • Backpacks, bags, purses or clutches
  • Signs made anything other than cloth, paper, foam core, or cardboard
  • Drones or other unmanned aircraft systems
  • Grills, propane tanks
  • Tobacco products
  • Umbrellas
  • Laser pointers
  • Megaphones or other amplified sound devices
  • Other items deemed inappropriate by law enforcement

The university initially blocked Spencer from speaking following clashes during an August rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, that left one person dead. School officials cited threats of violence as the reasoning behind the ban.

But Spencer threatened to file a lawsuit against UF, which is a public state entity, alleging it was violating his freedom of speech. The threat was likely heeded by UF officials because of a federal judge’s recent ruling that the First Amendment prevents Auburn University from blocking Spencer from speaking “on the basis of message.”

Now the event will beheld in the Philips Center for the Performing Arts. Spencer’s organization, the National Policy Institute, will be charged $10,564 for security and to rent the venue.

A separate event “promoting dialogue, education and embracing difference and unity” will be held on campus at the same time as Spencer’s speech.

 

About the Author

Contact:

Zach Winn is a journalist living in the Boston area. He was previously a reporter for Wicked Local and graduated from Keene State College in 2014, earning a Bachelor’s Degree in journalism and minoring in political science.

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