Saying it expects a tab of at least $500,000 for beefed-up security, the University of Florida announced Thursday that white nationalist leader Richard Spencer will speak on campus October 19.
University President Kent Fuchs initially balked at a proposal for Spencer, a lightning-rod figure, to speak on campus in September. But facing the threat of a federal lawsuit, the university and representatives of Spencer negotiated the Oct. 19 appearance at the Phillips Center for the Performing Arts.
As a sign of the sensitivity of the issue, the university set up a webpage providing detailed information about the event — and saying the school’s decision was based on First Amendment grounds. Fuchs’ initial opposition to Spencer’s appearance came after a white nationalist rally in August in Charlottesville, Va., turned deadly.
“As a state entity, UF must allow the free expression of speech,” the university webpage said. “We cannot prohibit groups or individuals from speaking in our public forums except for limited exceptions, which include safety and security. Our decision to disallow the September event was based on specific threats and a date that fell soon after the Charlottesville event. Allowing Spencer to speak in October provided additional time to make significant security arrangements.”
The university said it will charge “allowable” costs of $10,564 to the Spencer-led National Policy Institute to rent the Phillips Center and for security inside the venue. But the university expects at least $500,000 in security-related costs on campus and in Gainesville. That includes costs of 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 agencies, according to the university.
The Spencer appearance is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. on Oct 19, and the university said classes will not be canceled that day.
“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,” the webpage said. “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 university also indicated it is preparing for protesters.
“Protesters are expected to assemble near the Phillips Center, but we will have security across campus and in the community,” the webpage said. “Law enforcement will closely monitor groups marching into other areas of campus. The safety of our campus and community is our top priority.”
I sincerely hope there isn’t any violence. If antifa shows up, there will be trouble, they come prepared to fight. The police should keep the two sides separated for sure. As for cost, it is what it is. Security has to be provided unless there is a specific threat of overwhelming violence that would give the college a viable reason to cancel the event. I for one won’t be going to Gainesville FL on that date with both sides of crazys wanting to Choke the other side.
USA Lover says
I saw David Copperfield and Jerry Seinfeld at the Phillips Center. They didn’t have much security. I guess if you’re a white racist,you deserve it.
Marilyn Wilkinson says
I find it completely unacceptable that $500,000 of tax payer money is being wasted on this. NPI should foot the bill for the security. This is infuriating!
Its very simple….ARREST & PROSECUTE everyone that breaks the law. FREEDOM OF SPEECH is not free. It has been paid for over & over again by Americans that believe in THE FIRST AMENDMENT.
White supremacist are basically Nazi whether they are officially declared or not. The Antifa people are basically Stalinist/Lenenist communist. We fought the Nazi in WW2 and have been fighting the communist all over the globe in police actions ever since WW2. I don’t care for either philosophy, but a lot of folks get taken in by the smooth rhetoric spewed out by both sides. What is really bad is when our political leaders get taken in as they have been at present. Republicans lean towards Nazism and Democrats lean towards communism. Both of these philosophies are like oil and water. Nazisim has a central dictatorial leader and virtually no rights by the people and no property rights. Communists are for the people, but the government still owns most all property and the government works for the greater good of the many not the few. This principal of personal linvidual rights is at the core of our constituton as expressed in the Bill of Rights.
I’m disappointed the media has permitted the University of Florida to throw out a wild figure of $500,000 for security costs without challenging the university to detail how it came up with the figure. One can only imagine that hundreds of cops, firefighters, mental health counselors, public relations staffers, and the UF president are lining up for an overtime bonanza. The bill evidently will be sent to Tallahassee as a supplemental budget request. Hopefully, state auditors will require documentation for every dollar before signing off.
The only reason this amount, if true, is necessary is that so many crybabies don’t understand that the first amendment applies to everyone, not just people you agree with. The antifa crowd will show up regardless of whether or not the speaker is “controversial” or they just generally disagree with him. Look at what happened at UC Berkeley when a conservative speaker attempted to exercise his rights. It’s a bit disingenuous to imply that the security costs are high because a racist group is speaking; the costs would be the same if Jerry Falwell was the guest of honor. There is an element out there that is looking for a fight, and any excuse to get it.
Like it or not He may or may not speak but the right of whomever to have Him there exists so. SMH
Quite simple. . . all state universities should change their policies and charge all speakers for ALL costs for safety and security. Some will most certainly require far more security costs than others. . . so be it!
@Anon agree to disagree. The Aryan race Nazis took White Supremacy to a whole new level. Occultism, Mysticism and brain washing at a National level to the Masses.Even amongst other white sectors of Society at home and abroad.
Sherry, by charging for security, you are limiting the most controversial speakers right to free speech, which would be a kin to a poll tax on black voters, or a literacy test before one was to vote. SORRY, but that security bill falls on our wallets to pay. I personally don’t care for the speaker or what he represents, or his opponents who are trying to change our form of government from democracy to communism. Denial of free speech is a slippery slope, without it you and I could not be posting our comments on this Website.
Pin head says
Why aren’t they paying for their own security? Free speech doesn’t equate to free security.
Bill Weber says
Speakers should pay for their own security. 500k could have been put to better use like scholarships.
South Florida says
Wtf is this world coming to paying a white supremacist to give a damn speech?
I’ll give a damn speech myself for that amount of money.
Exactly Pin head. . . Free Speech has responsibilities. The university should “allow” free speech, but, NOT be required to create a secure bubble for it. The speaker should pay for the cost of security.
This is nothing like poll taxes or literacy test.
Percy's mother says
The “EXPECTED” tab of $500,00.00 is basically the University of Florida self-insuring against liability, no more, no less.
In a college business administration class called “Risk Management and Insurance” one will learn that RISK MANAGEMENT is a necessary cost of doing business.
This has nothing to do with white supremacy, it most likely has to do with the fact that the Alt LEFT / far LEFT terrorist organization called ANTIFA may show up and cause mayhem similar to what that organization did a few months ago in Virginia.
Yea,like the Hillary would pay a dime for security.Hell she demands a private plane.
a tiny manatee says
Antifa is a good thing and anyone that disagrees needs a lesson in history. Start here.
Lip Conghee says
“Antifa is a good thing and anyone that disagrees needs a lesson in history. Start here.”
Let me fix that for you:
“Antifa is a good thing and anyone that disagrees will get punched in the face, and we’ll cry really hard when you punch back”
a tiny manatee says
Hey guys, hey guys, get this. Instead of entering world war 2 against the axis, we should have understood that people have different opinions and used our deep sense of compassionate conservatism to embrace theirs instead of condemning it outright.
Sherry, What if Martin Luther King would have been charged for security every where he spoke.? Could the Black movement of that era have afforded this security cost? What you submit about having speakers pay for free speech does limit free speech that is garrunteed in by the 1st amendment of the constitutionew by making the speaker basically buy his forum in which he is to speak.