TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CAPITOL NEWS SERVICE) – Attorney General Pam Bondi is urging students at the University of Florida not to attend the planned appearance of white nationalist Richard Spencer Thursday.
“I would urge all students not to go to that. There’s no place for hatred and espousing these horrible, horrible views,” said Bondi.
A new study found many college students agree with using violence against controversial figures like Spencer. The planned appearance continues to evoke emotion at the state capitol.
How students will react to the controversial speaker is a concern. A Brookings Institute study found a bare majority of 51 percent of college students think it’s OK to shout and drown out speech they find offensive. At Florida State University we got a similar response.
“I think you should listen to what anyone has to say and then wait with your rebuttal,” said student Karl Roche.
Another student, Serafina Cruz said, “Yeah, you can shout over someone that’s exercising their free speech. I mean, it’s not cool.”
More shockingly, the Brookings study found one out of five students agreed violence was OK to use against offensive speakers.
All of the students we interviewed say they disagreed with using violence, but none were surprised by how many had answered “yes” in the survey.
Ahead of Spencer’s planned UF visit, Governor Rick Scott declared a state of emergency to protect students.
“I believe in the First Amendment rights that people have. I do expect people to be safe. I won’t condone any violence,” he said.
Commissioner of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement Rick Swearingen will be in Gainesville, overseeing law enforcement operations.
“Those who show up to exercise their constitutional right under the First Amendment, they will have no issues. Those who show up to engage or encourage violence, they’re going to have problems,” said Swearingen.
Protests have already begun being held on UF’s campus ahead of Spencer’s appearance.
The Brookings study also found that six out of ten students believe event organizers are legally required to provide opposing viewpoints. No such law exists.
Reprinted from News Channel 7, WJHG.com