Gov. Rick Scott Declares Emergency Ahead of Spencer Speech

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Gov. Rick Scott declared a state of emergency on Monday in Alachua County, which includes Gainesville. This comes three days ahead of white nationalist leader Richard Spencer’s speech at the University of Florida campus.

The move comes after requests made by Alachua County Sheriff Sadie Darnell for assistance.

Spencer’s inflammatory remarks have recruited several supporters on the alt-right – they’ve also mobilized a great many opponents. His past speeches have resulted in violence between the two groups.

“We don’t know what to expect, and we don’t know what kind of crowd numbers to expect,” Darnell told the Times/Herald. “We all want this to be a non-event. We all want it to go very peacefully. But there is the potential for violence and for widespread property damage.”

The governor’s executive order gives Florida agencies the ability to waive several cumbersome rules and regulations.

“I find that the threat of a potential emergency is imminent,” Scott’s order read.

The Sheriff praised Gov. Scott for his cooperation, saying that this will make it resources are more readily available to deal with whatever happens. Under the order, Sheriff Darnell will also have the power to issue mandatory curfews – though she anticipates that won’t be necessary.

The University also welcomes the action, claiming that it will enable them to quickly seek reimbursement for increased security costs.

The significance of Spencer’s arrival is due mostly to the status he gained during the Charlotteville crisis two months ago. There, Spencer led a neo-Nazi rally protesting the removal of a statue made in the likeness of Confederate general Robert E. Lee.