December 11, 2017

Florida Prepares Statewide Police Resources To Defend Richard Spencer

Aug. 12, 2017: Dick Spencer in Charlottesville, VA during the Unite the Right rally. Photo: Unicorn Riot

Thousands are expected to come for Dick Spencer as he makes his first announced public appearance since Charlottesville, but law enforcement is going to try and stop that.

UNICORN RIOT

GAINESVILLE, FL – After legal threats led the University of Florida to agree to host neo-nazi speaker Richard Spencer, local officials have stated that they expect to spend over $500,000 on security despite only being able to charge a fraction of that cost to host the event. The school had previously cancelled a speaking event by Spencer in September citing safety concerns, but Spencer’s event has now been officially confirmed as taking place on October 19th.

One of the University of Florida’s top doctors recently told the Washington Post that the security operation to protect Richard Spencer on October 19 involves closing a major outpatient clinic and surgery center, disrupting students’ ability to access medical services. No student group at the University of Florida has invited Spencer, who is simply renting space for his own private event.

Spencer, mostly known for getting punched in the face on Donald Trump’s inauguration day, is a leader of the “suit and tie Nazi” think tank National Policy Institute. He is also the owner of the website AltRight.com and is generally credited with inventing the term “alt-right” as a social engineering tactic to repackage and legitimize white nationalist ideology. He was scheduled to speak at Unite The Right in Charlottesville before it was shut down, and was also a headlining speaker at a recently cancelled Nazi torch rally that had been scheduled for December 28 in Charlotte, North Carolina.

More recently, on Saturday, October 7, Richard Spencer and a few dozen associates conducted an unannounced torch march through Charlottesville, VA, rallying for about half an hour before quickly fleeing the scene under the protection of a police convoy. Spencer was heard on Saturday night to say “there’s going to be a lot more crying, sweetheart” which many took as a reference to the murder of Heather Heyer and a threat to bring about similar violence and death in the future.

Florida officials have said they are aware of Spencer’s appearance in Charlottesville and are still actively planning for the 19th.

Scheduled meetings of Florida CEOC (Community Emergency Operation Center) to plan for Richard Spencer event

Through public records requests sent to city officials in Gainesville, Unicorn Riot has obtained documents that shed light on police preparations to create a safe space for Spencer and his supporters, who are expected to be met with thousands of anti-racist counter-protesters.

On Friday, October 6, Gainesville Police were looking to finalize a Mutual Aid Agreement that would bring outside law enforcement from all over Florida into town on October 19 to protect Spencer and his white nationalist fans from anti-racist counter-protests. Senior Assistant City Attorney Lee C. Libby forwarded the agreement for review to the city’s Risk Management departing, writing “GPD is trying to get this out to the Florida Police Chief’s Association before lunch so they can finalize mutual aid assistance for the Richard Spencer event.”

While the language in the memorandum makes reference to the “enthusiastic exercise of free speech” by both white supremacists and anti-racists, the nature of the police mission is spelled out clearly as “providing security for the Richard Spencer and/or National Policy Institute event.” The generic agreement, with blank spaces to be filled in by each assisting Florida agency, requests “operational assistance…for security planning, training, execution, and post-event law enforcement operations.”

The document bears resemblance to agreements signed by North Dakota law enforcement last year to send extra assistance to protect the Dakota Access Pipeline in Morton County near the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s reservation.

Other emails we acquired show how the unwanted neo-nazi gathering is already disrupting many aspects of how Gainesville conducts business as a city. On September 27, City Manager Office Coordinator Helen Harris suggested that the Spencer event would take up so much city resources that the regularly scheduled City Commission meeting, which would have been on October 19, had to be cancelled and rescheduled. A trip to Ohio that local officials planned on taking with representatives of the local Chamber of Commerce was also cancelled.

We expect to receive additional materials from records requests filed to government agencies in Gainesville and the State of Florida and will update this story as we receive more records.


Primary source material obtained during our reporting for this article:

-Document: Mutual Aid Agreement For Operations Assistance In Providing Security For The Richard Spencer And/Or National Policy Institute Event

-Email: RE MOU

-Email: Fwd- October 19th City Commission Agenda Items

-Email: FW- October 19th City Commission Agenda Items

-Email: FW- Public Records Request- Gainesville Department of Risk Management emails about Richard Spencer, September 20-present

-Email: Afternoon Update- Gov. Scott- No more bonuses for Enterprise Florida & Visit Florida

-Email: FW- CityLine Announcement- Statement from City Manager Regarding Richard Spencer

Additional emails from Gainesville City Attorney’s office (86 pages)

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