JTA–The University of Florida, home to the largest Jewish student body in the country, is bracing for an upcoming speech on campus by white supremacist leader Richard Spencer.
Only six weeks after Hurricane Irma wrought destruction in Florida, governor Rick Scott declared another state of emergency, this time ahead of Spencer’s speech in Gainesville Thursday afternoon.
The university allowed Spencer to speak after initially declining his request, saying that as a public institution it must uphold the principles of free speech. He was a promoter of the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August which turned deadly.
Spencer, the founder of a white supremacist think tank, has advocated a white ethno-state which would exclude non-whites and Jews. The Anti-Defamation League said he has become “more openly anti-Semitic in recent years.”
“Our decision to disallow the September event was based on specific threats and a date that fell soon after the Charlottesville event,” the university said in a statement. “Allowing Spencer to speak in October provided additional time to make significant security arrangements.”
Although the event is not sponsored by any groups affiliated with the university, the public university must pay over $500,000 in security for the event. In 1992 the Supreme Court ruled the government cannot charge a speaker for security costs due to potential protesters.
Full story here.