Winds of charge blew through Veteran’s Park Saturday. A movement started on Marco Island Feb. 10 saw its ranks swell to more than 300 as people gathered to protest those who govern.
The group’s name, GOOOH (Get Out of Our House), may look difficult to pronounce but is as easy as saying “go” to members of the House of Representatives. The movement’s followers believe those who seek to serve their Districts are serving themselves instead.
Carrying signs and venting frustrations, protesters first met in the park; and then dispersed to street corners to provide visual proof of their determination to make change happen.
“There’s a lot of frustration and Congress is not listening to the people,” said Keith Flaugh, the protest’s organizer. “People are here to change the process we use to put our representatives in office.”
Those changes include asking candidates in the November election to answer 100 questions clarifying their positions on key issues, demanding that they sign a legal agreement not to run for more than two terms and requiring them to stop accepting contribution from any group other than GOOOH.
GOOOH’s rally was joined by two other organizations: SWFL 9.12 and Naples’ Tea Party.
Carl Haeussler of 9.12 described his group as a non-political movement to get back to the feelings of unity experienced the day after Sept. 11, 2001, when terrorist attacks shook the nation. To do so, he hopes to take back control of the country.
Naples’ Tea Party organizer, Barry Willoughby, took a dim view of the status quo.
“Things are drastically wrong with America,” he said, addressing the crowd. “There is no transparency, no accountability. Make no mistake; the Tea Party is responsible for the election in Massachusetts where Scott Brown won. We held off ObamaCare as long as we could. That one battle we lost, but we will win the war.”
His words rang true for many Islanders.
“We need to take back our country and the principles it was founded on,” said Joanne Peona, who carried a sign reading: “How’s that change working for you now?”
“We’re tired of losing our freedom and fed up,” said Edward Pehola. “We’d like to see both parties get together on major issues. His sign read: “In November the buck stops here.”
Marco Islander Betty Taylor had no good words for President Barack Obama.
“Obama is turning us into another Venezuela,” she said. “just like Chavez.”
After a 30-minute rally in the park, about half the protesters moved to designated demonstration points at the corners of Collier Boulevard and Elkcam Circle, Collier Boulevard and Bald Eagle Drive and in front of the Esplanade.
Passing drivers honked and waved in support of the demonstrators. One cyclist even rang the bell on his handlebars.
Craig Braun, a passerby from Marco Island, praised the effort and the sidewalk demonstration.
“I think it’s fantastic,” he said. “I hope it will take us out of socialism and back to capitalism.”
Jerry and Dee Bare, who joined the sidewalk protestors, felt some kind of action was necessary.
“We believe this is a good thing,” Jerry Bare said, “and we’d like to see some changes made.”
Limousine driver Craig Kennedy walked down the driveway from the Esplanade to see what was going on.
“Unbelievable,” he said. “I knew there was a bunch of idiots around. Where were they when we spent all that money on Iraq and Afghanistan? Where the hell were they then? They weren’t on the street corners.”
Although there was no organized opposition to the demonstration, some passersby appeared overwhelmed by the group.
A visiting family from Dusseldorf, Germany, slid through the crowd quickly trying not to make eye contact with the protesters.
Jerry Bare noted that he had seen several “one-fingered peace signs” from passing motorists.
Cyclists Scott Treiber wended through the crowd on his bicycle.
“It’s kind of strange,” he said. “I’m not paying much attention. I’m just trying to ride my bike.”
Penny Hush, sporting a GOOOH button and a sign that read “Fire Congress,” waved and hooted for motorists to show some spirit.
“I’m here because we need a new Congress,” she explained. “I want some honest politicians representing us. I don’t want leadership that’s bribed.”
As the demonstration wound down, a group of protesters on the corner of Elkcam Circle and Collier Boulevard waved their fists up and down urging a Winn Dixie truck driver to blow his horn. He deftly maneuvered his 18-wheeler around them missing the curb, but choosing not to sound his horn.
Perhaps he was too intent on preventing damage at that moment and less focused on the protestors’ view of the damage caused by government leaders.
Organizers secured a permit for the rally and march from Bob Devlin, planning, zoning technician and flood plain manager for the City of Marco Island. No special provisions were made for the event other than ensuring health and safety, Devlin said.
At the rally, Flaugh announced that Tim Cox, founder of the national GOOOH movement, will be in the Marco Island area on April 22-23.