Florida’s governor Rick Scott has declared a state of emergency in his state over an upcoming event involving the University of Florida, and no, it’s not because the Georgia Bulldogs will march into Jacksonville on October 28 and trounce the Gators. Scott has made the declaration ahead of a speech by alt-right guru Richard Spencer.
It’s easy to see why Scott wold be skittish about having someone like Spencer come to Gainesville. After all, the white nationalist cretin Spencer organized the event in Charlottesville, VA in August that not only ended in loss of life but created political ripples that have been difficult for both sides of the aisle to get over.
Declaring the state of emergency for the speech gives Scott the flexibility to mobilize police and National Guard troops as he sees fit in order to keep the peace and protect students and other citizens.
In a seven-page executive order, Scott declared: “I find that the threat of a potential emergency is imminent.” He activated the same emergency powers he employed as Hurricane Irma took aim at the state last month.
The governor’s executive order, Number 17-264, gives state agencies the power to suspend rules and regulations, including for purchasing, travel and personnel actions. Scott also activated his authority as governor to spend surplus money as he deems necessary.
Sadie Darnell, the sheriff of Alachua County, agrees with Scott.
Sheriff Darnell said the order mainly makes resources available much faster than normal. She praised Scott for his cooperation. She said Scott’s order includes power to impose curfews but that she did not anticipate that would be necessary.
“As long as people are peacefully assembling, they‘re not going to have any problems anywhere in Alachua County,” Darnell said.
The order also allows the University of Florida to more easily seek reimbursement for security costs, which will no doubt run high – the school has already spent half a million dollars.
For his part, Spencer has naturally referred to the declaration as “major overkill” and “a pretext to stifle free speech.” Those are exactly the kind of statements we would expect from the alt-right.
It’s a shame that we have to fork over this kind of money to protect people from the hideous actions of Spencer’s followers as well as the reactions of those on the opposite side that could end in violence. But good for Governor Scott for taking proactive measures to protect his state.