from the what-if-nobody-showed-up? dept.
When Hurricane Irma was bearing down on Florida last month, Gov. Rick Scott declared a state of emergency. On Monday, he did the same thing in Alachua County, ahead of a speech by white nationalist Richard Spencer at the University of Florida in Gainesville.
"We live in a country where everyone has the right to voice their opinion, however, we have zero tolerance for violence and public safety is always our number one priority," Scott said in a statement. "This executive order is an additional step to ensure that the University of Florida and the entire community is prepared so everyone can stay safe."
"I find that the threat of a potential emergency is imminent," Scott declared in his executive order, noting that Alachua County Sheriff Sadie Darnell had requested the state's assistance. The order will make it easier for various agencies to coordinate a security plan for Thursday's speech at the university.
[...] No campus group invited Spencer to speak, and the university is not hosting or sponsoring the event. Spencer's group, the National Policy Institute, is paying the university $10,564 for facility rental and security.
And it looks like it could get expensive:
The speech and accompanying protests are also a major expense: The university as well as state and local agencies expect to spend more than $500,000 to provide additional security.
And the University of Florida can't demand that Spencer pay the full cost of protecting him, because of a 1992 U.S. Supreme Court ruling, Forsyth County v. Nationalist Movement.
In that decision, the university explains, "the Court clarified that the government cannot assess a security fee on the speaker based upon the costs of controlling the reaction of potential hostile onlookers or protestors," under legal doctrine known as the "heckler's veto."
Well, that is the cost of free speech in a free country.