Gov. Rick Scott (R) has declared a state of emergency in a Florida county ahead of a planned speech by white nationalist leader Richard Spencer.
Spencer is scheduled to speak at the University of Florida campus in Gainesville on Thursday.
Scott declared the state of emergency in Alachua County, noting that Spencer’s speeches in other states have in the past “sparked protests and counter-protests resulting in episodes of violence, civil unrest and multiple arrests,” according to the Tampa Bay Times.
“I find that the threat of a potential emergency is imminent,” Scott said in a seven-page executive order.
Scott said in a statement that everyone has a right to voice their opinions.
But, he said, “we have zero tolerance for violence and public safety is always our number one 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,” Scott said in the statement.
“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,” he said.
In August, the University of Florida rejected a request to rent space made by a group helmed by Spencer, citing safety concerns.
Earlier this month, Spencer led a group of about 30 white nationalists in Charlottesville.
He announced the return — which came less than two months after violence erupted in the town between “Unite the Right” protesters and counter-protesters — on a live stream on Twitter.
“The left wing establishment is built around anti-white policies,” Spencer told the group.
In Charlottesville, the group also chanted “The South will rise again” and “Russia is our friend.”