Florida police brace for protests at speech by white nationalist Richard Spencer

GAINESVILLE,  Fla. -- The University of Florida is bracing for potential violence at a speech by white nationalist leader Richard Spencer.

More than 500 law enforcement officers have reported to the Gainesville campus before Thursday afternoon's event, and Gov. Rick Scott declared a state of emergency, CBS News correspondent Mark Strassmann reports.

"We are hoping that this is going to be a non-event. But we are prepared to respond and handle this," said Alachua County Sheriff Sadie Darnell. "When you get human beings together on different opinions and then you add emotions to it, you've got the recipe for a lot to go wrong."

The school estimates it will spend $600,000 on security for Spencer's planned speech Thursday. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that the government, in this case a public university, cannot charge speakers for security costs. Spencer's National Policy Institute is paying $10,564 to rent space for the speaking event.

In August, Spencer participated in a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, that led to deadly violence. University of Florida President Kent Fuchs rejected Spencer's plan to speak on campus last month, but relented after Spencer threatened to sue.

"We did know at that point we weren't going to permanently ban him and so if we could find a time and a place when we could assure security, we knew we would allow him at that point," Fuchs said.

Attorney Gary Edinger represented Spencer when the University of Florida pushed back.

"Hate speech is none the less protected by the Constitution as long as it's in the realm of political speech and not actual violence," Edinger said.

Some students plan to protest what they consider to be hate speech, while others will keep their distance.

"I don't feel safe being here, especially since I'm a woman of color," said student Nafeesah Attah. "So I'll lean on my other friends who will be out there. But I will definitely be inside my house."

Cameron Padgett, a Georgia State University student who organized the event at the University of Florida for Spencer, called the high security costs "discouraging," and said anyone from either side who incites violence should be arrested. 

"That money should be used for scholarships, more research or stay with the taxpayers. But at the end of the day free speech needs to be protected," he said.