We have gotten a lot of questions about who is paying for security and why. Our verify team did the research and looked to verify the cost and who is paying for it.
For our sources, we checked the University of Florida's website where the event is outlined. We also talked to U-F president Kent Fuchs.
To Speak at UF, Richard Spencer was charged just over $10,000 for the venue and security. NBC News is reporting that the university and other agencies are paying more that $600,000 to enhance security on campus and in the city of Gainesville for this event. 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 providing first responders.
Gov. Rick Scott already declared a state of emergency this week. President Fuchs said, "The state of emergency allows us to respond a little faster to get those agencies here if we need them. We are not going to have national guard on campus but the county sheriff wants them available in case they're needed outside of our campus. But the state of emergency has really heightened the anxiety on campus."
So, if security is going to be such an issue, people are questioning why Spencer doesn't have to pay for it.
It all comes down to a Supreme Court case from 1992, Forsyth County versus. Nationalist Movement. Basically, the government can't make a speaker pay more for the cost of security based on controlling the reaction of potential hostile onlookers or protestors. This legal doctrine is called the "heckler's veto." Justice Harry Blackmun wrote in that case, "Speech cannot be financially burdened, any more than it can be punished or banned, simply because it might offend a hostile mob."
So that means, Richard Spencer and his organization are not responsible for paying the costs of potential protestors, onlookers or members of the public outside of the speaking venue.
We also received a question about who invited Spencer to speak on campus. President Fuchs said, "No one on campus invited him, no one is hosting him, no one's sponsoring him. But we needed, by law, to allow him to come and rent our space because we have opened our space up to the public and he's part of the public."
So, we can verify that Spencer and his organization are paying over $10,000 to speak at UF. UF and other organizations are spending over $600,000 on extra security. Spencer can't be charged for extra security because that would infringe on the First Amendment. And no one invited Spencer to campus or is sponsoring him.
If there is something you would like us to verify, send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.