A state of emergency has been declared in Florida ahead of a controversial college event featuring Richard Spencer — the infamous white nationalist who helped organize the deadly rallies in Charlottesville.
Gov. Rick Scott made the move on Monday, issuing an executive order as officials prepared to deal with the fallout from Spencer’s speaking engagement.
“I find that the threat of a potential emergency is imminent and hereby declare a state of emergency in Alachua County,” Scott wrote in the order.
Spencer, 39, is scheduled to speak at the University of Florida on Thursday. He will also be addressing issues during a question-and-answer session,according to the Orlando Sentinel.
Floridians are reportedly furious about the event, with protests already taking place in Gainesville.
It comes less than three months after Spencer helped organize the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia — which later turned deadly when a man drove his car into a crowd of people.
Local authorities had asked Scott to declare the state of emergency in advance of Spencer’s UF event, the Sentinel reports.
His executive order ultimately means that the Division of Emergency Management — the state agency typically in charge of hurricane relief efforts — will now help police keep the peace during it, while also placing the Florida National Guard on standby.
Anti-fascist protesters, known as Antifa, plan to demonstrate on Thursday in response to Spencer’s seminar. Social media users, on both sides, have threatened to get violent at the event.