Protest is part of MoveOn.org’s National Day of Action
NAPLES, FL. A couple dozen Southwest Florida residents lined the sidewalk at U.S. 41 and Daniels Parkway during rush-hour traffic Wednesday afternoon to protest high gas prices and show their support for Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama.”We can’t drill our way out of this,” one person chanted as vehicles sped past.
Some drivers honked in support of those gathered as part of MoveOn.org’s National Day of Action in front of a Mobile On the Run store.
In a prepared statement, MoveOn.org and the newly-formed Fort Myers MoveOn Council said the rally was anticipated to draw thousands of people nationwide who “are protesting record-high gas prices.”
In an effort to pump up the people before the Fort Myers rally, Norm Scott encouraged people to vote for Obama. Obama “supports energy conservation and the development of alternative fuel sources,” Scott said. “We’re not protesting. We’re educating the public. Every one of us is feeling the pain (at the pump),” he said.
The price of gasoline has affected many of those gathered at the rally, including Fort Myers resident Carrie Richards, who said she was contacted by MoveOn.org about the rally. “I’m just here to show support and wish more people would get involved,” she said.
Brandon Kelly also hails from Fort Myers but spends the school year at Newberry College near Columbia, S.C. He is an Obama supporter who was told about the rally by his grandparents, Kathleen and Tom Kelly, who also attended.
The price of a gallon of gas has Brandon Kelly cutting back on his social life. “I definitely drive less,” he said. “I’ve gotta stay away from the fancy places.” And the faltering economy has caused him difficulty in finding a summer job, which further restricts his time off from school. He couldn’t attend Newberry if not for the wrestling scholarship he received.
His brother, Blane Kelly, attends Edison College and most days, rides a bicycle the 10 miles from home to college, Brandon Kelly said.
His grandmother piped up that Brandon Kelly also rides his bicycle more often to save on gas. Most importantly, Brandon Kelly said, he’s ready for a change. “There’s too much negativity. I’m ready for something more positive,” he said of why he’s an Obama supporter.
Arlyne Goodwin, a retired secretary, and her husband Archie, a retired World War II U.S. Air Force veteran, made the trek from Naples so they could participate in the rally.
“I feel strongly about gas prices and gas prices affect food prices and clothing prices,” Arlyne Goodwin said. “I feel for people who are losing their jobs. What happens to people when they lose their jobs? Financial security is so important.”
Two managers at the Mobile station said they could not comment on the rally, but business was up a bit.
Tammy Christiano, who did not attend the rally, stopped at the gas station after work to purchase a few items. The Lehigh Acres resident, who works as a food server, said she’s concerned about the price of gas, but sees the bigger picture.
“Here’s my gripe,” she said. “We’re an economy based on cheap fuel. What all the environmentalists are saying, ‘Let’s not drill offshore or take out mountain tops.'” However, she said, people don’t mind other countries doing the same thing. “Are we only for our own environment?” she asked rhetorically. “Why not plunder our own (country), because we are losing the war economically.”
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