GAINEVILLE, Fla. (WOGX FOX 51) - Across the University of Florida campus, speaking with students and faculty, not one person told FOX 35 that they’re happy with the fact that Richard Spencer is going to be at the Phillips Center for Performing Arts Thursday.
“I’m kind of scared honestly. I don’t want to go to class that day,” said Elizabeth, a senior at UF.
That sentiment, a common one as the as the self-proclaimed white nationalist prepares to speak on campus Thursday afternoon.
“It’s not something to ignore and go about your normal day,” said Rachel, who’s also a senior.
Rachel says she’ll be nowhere near the event on the Southwest side of campus.
“My class has been moved to on line just in efforts to keep us safe.”
In light of the riots in Charlottesville, Virginia, for the last six weeks, the University of Florida Police Department, Gainesville PD, the Alachua County Sheriffs Office, the Florida Department Law Enforcement, Florida Highway Patrol along with feds have been working together on an intense plan to keep everyone safe before, during and after Spencer’s event.
The university has confirmed the police and security presence will cost more than a half million dollars surrounding the event.
“Public safety is our utmost priority here at UF we are very concerned about faculty staff and students,” said Janine Sikes, spokesperson for UF. “Some buildings are closing earlier, some services are closing earlier, we’re going to continue as normal as we can with some alternate changes.”
According to the university’s web page www.statements.ufl.edu, other buildings immediately surrounding the Phillips Performing Arts Center will be closed all day Thursday.
Mitch Emerson runs For Our Future. His group is organizing a protest made up of students and folks from across the state that wills stand outside Spencer’s rally.
“We’re organizing busses and carpools so they can see that Floridians are united against that type of white supremacy. Whenever there are more of them, they are inherently violent. Whenever there are more of us on both sides everyone goes home safe, that’s my big focus on trying to get everyone to go,” said Emerson.
Why is Spencer allowed to speak at UF? Sikes says UF is a public university, they abide by the First Amendment and Spencer’s group paid the $10,654 dollars to rent the facility.