Richard Spencer’s contract to speak at UF complete

By Andrew Caplan

 

The Gainesville Sun

GAINESVILLE | White nationalist Richard Spencer will speak at the University of Florida Oct. 19 at the Phillips Center.

Cameron Padgett, a Georgia State University graduate student who often organizes speaking events on Spencer’s behalf, and UF officials said Thursday that a contract between them will have Spencer speaking at 2:30 p.m. Spencer will pay $10,564 to rent the facility and for security within the venue.

UF said it cannot pass on additional security costs to Spencer’s organization, the National Policy Institute.

“Since safety of students, faculty, staff and visitors to campus is the University’s top priority, UF will end up paying at least $500,000 to enhance security on campus and in the city of Gainesville,” UF said in a press release Thursday evening. “This includes costs from the University of Florida Police Department, Gainesville Police Department, Alachua County Sheriff’s Office, Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Florida Highway Patrol and other agencies who are providing first responders.”

Officials expect the event to attract supporters of Spencer and white nationalism, and opponents who contend that white nationalism fosters oppression and violence.

Spencer, a leader of the alt-right movement, often speaks at campuses around the nation, often sparking debates over free speech. He was tentatively scheduled to speak at UF on Sept. 12, but UF denied a permit request from Padgett, citing public safety concerns.

Spencer spoke at and helped coordinate the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, which ended when a man drove a car into a crowd of counter-demonstrators, killing one and injuring 19 others.

After being told they couldn’t speak at UF, Padgett and Spencer retained Gainesville attorney Gary Edinger, who specializes in First Amendment issues. Edinger sent UF a letter threatening to sue if the university did not allow the event to proceed. UF officials then said they would accommodate Spencer and others at a later date if the group reapplied.

Edinger confirmed Thursday that the contract has been signed.

“My client has executed UF’s standard contract for the facility and is tendering payment for the required amount,” he wrote in an email. “The cost deposit appears to be the standard fee for the facility plus the normal security costs for an event of this size.”

 

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