Security increases ahead of white nationalist speech at University of Florida

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Students at the University of Florida have noticed increased security on campus Tuesday ahead of Thursday’s speech by white nationalist Richard Spencer.

The university will spend $500,000 to enhance security on campus.

Nearly 100 people rallied Monday to protest the school’s decision to allow Spencer to speak.

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Gov. Rick Scott declared a State of Emergency Monday ahead of the speech. He said it was not to cause alarm, but allow for easier local, state and federal response and teamwork, if needed.

Some students won't be around to witness the speech.

"I'm going to Fort Myers, far away from here," said UF freshman Jordanna Herrmann.

Spencer was to be a featured speaker at the August rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, at which one person died, but authorities stopped the event from taking place after protests and counterprotests turned violent.

The university will recoup $10,564 from Spencer's National Police Institute for the two-hour rental of the Phillips Center for the Performing Arts. However, it cannot pass along the balance of these costs -- enough to pay the annual tuitions of about 75 undergraduate students, according to university estimates -- to him under a 1992 U.S. Supreme Court free speech ruling.

Thursday's event will run 2:30 to 4:30 p.m.

UF plans to remain open during the event, but access to campus buildings will be tightly restricted, and its faculty has been asked to be understanding of students who are fearful to be on campus that day.

"It's frustrating that you feel unsafe and you feel everywhere you're walking, like something is going to be going on, especially in the Plaza of the Americas and such. I don't know what's going to happen later on, but I feel like it's going to get worse," said UF freshman Samara Barradas.

The university posted FAQ on its website.

Channel 9's Angela Jacobs will be in Gainesville leading up to Thursday's speech. Follow her on Twitter and watch Eyewitness News for updates.

Watch below to learn more about Richard Spencer:

Questions and Answers Regarding Thursday's Speaking Event: https://freespeech.ufl.edu/qa-for-1019-event/

Posted by University of Florida on Monday, October 16, 2017