GAINESVILLE, FLORIDA, UNITED STATES (OCTOBER 19, 2017) (REUTERS) – Hundreds of police officers were deployed at the University of Florida on Thursday (October 19) to guard against unrest over a speech by a white nationalist that was expected to draw thousands in protest.
Richard Spencer’s event at the university in Gainesville, which prompted the governor to declare a state of emergency to prepare for possible violence, comes about two months after rallies by neo-Nazis and white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia, led to a deadly clash with counter-protesters.
“A lot of people just aren’t going to be around campus because they’re a little worried and a lot of people are going to join the counter protesting,” said Wes Li, a 20-year-old philosophy student at the University of Florida.
The violence on Aug. 12 sparked a national debate on race, and Republican President Donald Trump came under fire for blaming both sides for the melee.
Spencer, who heads the National Policy Institute, a nationalist think tank, is scheduled to speak at 2:30 p.m. EDT (1830 GMT) at a campus performing arts center. The university said it did not invite him to speak, but was obligated by law to allow the event. It said it will spend more than $500,000 on security.