With Drew Scott, 38, as an organizer, a crowd of over 100 American citizens gathered for strength under the pavilion in Centennial Park while a twilit storm doused the city. They were of all ages, colors and had been made aware of this event via Facebook, Youtube and the media.
When 7 PM arrived, Scott took the center and announced himself with the help of some collaborators who applauded to gain everyone’s attention.
“I guess one of the things that’s on a lot of people’s minds is what subjects do we discuss over the course of time,” Scott said.
Indeed, this local movement, which arose as part of a nationwide response to Occupy Wall Street, has a lot of ground to cover if the Declaration by the Occupation of New York is any indication. So, the meeting set out with the objectives of having people speak their minds, find common ground and set a date for further action.
Passion and some controversy was on display.
One of the first issues that arose was a possible conflict with Zombiecon, an event expected to possibly attract 10,000 visitors. Various speakers made the points that it may or may not be wise to compete with or piggyback on Zombiecon. Eventually, it was decided to have the next action, a march, on the same day, October 15, but earlier, at noon.
Volunteers were culled to meet any legal hurdles such as permits. Other speakers in the crowd made suggestions such as the need to remain peaceful, to educate yourself and to be careful about the content of signs.
Issues that were discussed included the need to stimulate small businesses in the area and diversify the economy, that the movement should remain inclusive and not be geared toward electing politicians.
However, Jim Roach, who is running for congress, interjected he was running as “part of the 99 %” and won some applause.
One speaker bemoaned that America was simply not the land of opportunity it had once been and that his grandparents told him it used to be “easy to make money in America.” One attendee said he had been a part of the Tea Party and was forcibly removed from a Tea Party event when he said he supported a government health program.
When one attendee bemoaned the comparisons made to hippies by the right wing media another said he approved of the comparison and that “our weapon should be love and love conquers hate.” It was said we should have the audacity of those who put flowers in guns during the 60′s protests.
Online progressive marketing maven, Dez Futurez, promoted his Occupation t-shirts.
Some tension arose when a supporter of Ron Paul called for a lessening of regulation. This was met with several other speakers claiming more regulation was needed. Another speaker declared that we could not let issues divide us.
Scott called a close to the proceedings and conducted interviews with the media present.
The storm continued.
Occupy Fort Myers Rally: October 15, 2011 starting at noon at Centennial Park