Dozens from Orlando plan to protest Richard Spencer's speech at UF

Thousands expected to participate in 'No Nazis at UF' protest

By Nadeen Yanes - Reporter

ORLANDO, Fla. - Dozens of cars are expected to fill up parking lots at the University of Central Florida and at the First Unitarian Church of Orlando at 11 a.m. Thursday, loaded with people headed to Gainesville to protest white nationalist Richard Spencer's speech at the University of Florida. 

Orlando's Mitch Emerson helped organize the protest called "No Nazis at UF."

"White supremacy must be confronted and opposed and stopped across the board," Emerson said in his small downtown Orlando office. 

He expects thousands will show up to protest Spencer's controversial speech. However, he expects it to be peaceful, despite the governor declaring a state of emergency ahead of Spencer's appearance.

"The idea is to have a peaceful protest," Emerson said. "You can't say one way or another things are going to happen, but if you look at recent history, you look at San Francisco and Boston, they outnumbered the white supremacists 100 to 1. What usually happens is the white supremacists have their little corner and we have a huge spot and there is no violence."

Officials from the University of Florida have been clear they wouldn't have it any other way. 

According to university officials, UF will spend $500,000 on security for the event. This includes bringing in officers from across the state and having local, state and federal officials working together. 

Orlando Police Chief John Mina told News 6 Wednesday that his department will also be sending 15 uniformed officers to the event. 

On Wednesday, UF had already implemented many of the security measures, including restricting access to some buildings to just students. 

The response leads Emerson to ask, why is UF still allowing Spencer to speak?

"There's clearly a threat, a threat of violence," he said. 

However, UF President Kent Fuchs said by law the university had no choice, which was echoed by Spencer's First Amendment attorney in Gainesville, Gary Edinger. 

"His speech is controversial but it does not incite violence," Edinger said. "The discord, the law breaking and in the case of Charlottesville a murder, that is a consequence of the speech, but it's not advocated in the speech. Again, it's a thin line, but it's a very important constitutional one."

News 6 tried to contact Spencer and The National Policy Institute for a comment on the protests already planned, but no one immediately responded Wednesday.

A spokesperson for Spencer said he will be addressing the media in a news conference before his event at 1:30 p.m. Thursday. The event begins at 2:30 p.m.

For more information on the event, including answers to commonly asked questions, click here.

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