UF students say school is to blame for white nationalist event

This Aug. 5, 2015, file photo shows white nationalist Richard Spencer. (Skyb0x/Wikipedia/CC BY-SA 3.0)

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WEAR) - A day before white nationalist Richard Spencer's visit, students and faculty members at the University of Florida are sending a message of their own.

A spokeswoman for the university said whatever Spencer's views might be, and even if it means spending tens of thousands of dollars on extra security, they are prepared for whatever happens.

In the meantime, students are showing their own message of love by using everything from banners, paint and social media to spread the word.

The event comes two months after Spencer, hundreds of white nationalists, and white supremacists marched through the University of Virginia's campus with torches for a rally. A riot broke out in which one person was killed and dozens were injured.

Wednesday, the Gainesville city manager took action, banning weapons and shields Thursday between the hours of 4 and 11 p.m.

"We believe we've taken most of the precautions that need to be taken. We are hopeful for a peaceful protest," said University of Florida spokesperson Janine Sikes.

The university spokesperson said although they do not support hate groups, they will support their constitutional right to free speech. Sikes said they are encouraging students to send their own message of love.

"I feel like it shouldn't be happening and that UF shouldn't have allowed him to come. I understand we are a public university but I feel like we could've fought a little harder in to making sure that he didn't get a chance to speak his hate across the university," said University of Florida student Meonese Scurry.

Law enforcement from across the state is in Gainesville. Thursday's event will trigger road closures. Also, the university will be closing several facilities in the vicinity where Spencer's speech will take place.

"I just feel like because of there being a lot of minorities and natives here, I just hope there aren't any conflicts between the two groups, especially when it comes to violence," said University of Florida student Kevin Mojica.

The spokesperson said school officials at UF will not be attending Spencer's event. Student leaders will host an online forum at 2:30 p.m.

Authorities say for the first time, law enforcement officers will also have body cams throughout the event.

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