NAPLES — President Barack Obama’s visit to Arcadia on Tuesday drew about 300 supporters and protesters from across Florida.
“They act like the American people are stupid, but we are not,” said protester Gladys Green, 76, of Venice.
The crowd, many hoping to get a glimpse of the President and the solar plant that he came to visit on Karson Street in DeSoto County, were turned away and directed to gather at a designated area on McKay Street off of U.S. 17 near the Arcadia Trading Post.
A few miles away from the DeSoto Next Generation Solar Energy Center, the group gathered at Cubitis Avenue Northeast and McKay Street.
Green said she was protesting Obama’s first nine months in office.
“We are not sure that Obama is a legal president,” Green said.
Green said she is against amnesty for illegal immigrants but that she does support legal immigration.
“I would like to see him out of there,’’ she said.
She held a sign that read: “Huge mistake. Hey, Obama. Don’t apologize for this proud America.”
Other signs that protesters held read: “No cap and trade” and “What about the tax deficit?”
More than 30 Naples Tea Party members joined the protesters.
“This is not about being critical about solar power,” said Barry Willoughby, 65, of Naples.
Willoughby, who held a sign that read: “Can you hear us now?” said the Naples Tea Party was protesting federal cap and trade legislation and health care initiatives.
He added that there are good applications for solar panels. However, the $150 million cost of the plant would only provide energy to 3,000 people, he said. There are alternatives to solar power, Willoughby said.
Around 11:30 a.m. as President Obama’s motorcade drove past the gathering of protesters and supporters on U.S. Highway 17, protesters chanted loudly: “Obey the Constitution. Obey the Constitution.”
A few feet away, supporters also gathered on the sidewalk just to get a glimpse of the president.
Doris Furlow, 56, of Bartow in Central Florida said even if she couldn’t meet him personally, she was glad to be in the same town as the president.
“I want to say to our President Obama that I love him, God loves him and we support him and he is doing an excellent job,” she said. She made the trip to Arcadia with her son, Alexander Duarte, 19.
Nora Campos was waiting to catch a glimpse of the president; with her was her daughter, 15, and niece, 17.
“I’m here supporting him because there are so many people who don’t support him,’’ said Campos, 34, of Wauchula in Central Florida. “I support him because I believe he can make a change, being that he was a minority.”
Campos said having Obama as president gives the community a sense that everyone, no matter their race, has the same rank and rights.
Arcadia resident Consuelo Pelham, 35, said she wanted to tell Obama that Arcadians really needed affordable housing instead of the solar plant.
Arcadia native Gail Mosley, 55, said the town’s newest solar energy plant would help the community lower residents’ electric bills and create new jobs.
“We have made history in Arcadia,” Mosley said.
Connect with Tracy X. Miguel at www.naplesnews.com/staff/tracy_x_miguel/