On Monday, Florida Gov. Rick Scott declared a state of emergency in Alachua County in anticipation of a scheduled University of Florida speech by white nationalist Richard Spencer.
Yes, you read that correctly.
Using the same emergency powers that he used for Hurricane Irma last month, the Florida governor issued a seven-page executive order regarding the speaking event, saying, “I find the threat of potential emergency is imminent.”
Scott’s decision marked an unprecedented use of executive order power to declare a state of emergency, a designation usually reserved for natural disasters or extreme danger.
Alachua County Sheriff Sadie Darnell praised the governor’s decision, telling the Times/Herald, “We don’t know what to expect, and we don’t know what kind of crowd numbers to expect. 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.”
Spencer is the man and mind behind recent alt-right protests across America in favor of white nationalism, most notably the one that took place in Charlottesville, VA, in August, where violent clashes between white nationalist protesters and counter protesters led to the death of 32-year-old Heather Heyer after a man plowed his car into a crowd.
Spencer may not be a hurricane, but one can understand the Florida governor’s concern considering the violence that have accompanied his rallies.
The University of Florida speaking event is set to take place on Oct. 19.