BLOGS/COLUMNS - OCCUPY MOVEMENT
Misdirected Occupying Personally Speaking by Sam Person
A Shameful Occupation The Observation Post by Vicki Crawford
Let's Discuss "Occupy" Naples Tea Party by Barry Willoughby
The Cost of Occupation The Observation Post by Vicki Crawford
Media Coverage: Tea Party vs. Occupy Wall Street Personally Speaking by Sam Person
Capitalism vs. Cooperation The Social Critic by Eddie Filer
My Opinion Of Occupy Naples Naples Tea Party by Barry Willoughby
What is the message that the Wall Street Protestors are trying to send? Steve DeFillippo’s Point of View
Class Warfare? Really? The World According to Me by Roger Berkley
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NAPLES — When Occupy Naples gathered last month, more than 300 marched through the downtown Naples area, passionately protesting. Saturday, for the second rally, fewer than 100 protesters made signs and vehemently voiced their frustrations.
But those who came wanted to be seen. And they wanted to be heard.
"Yep, the 99 percent actually lives in Naples, too," quipped retirees Steve Hemping and Mike Stone, referring to those without the world's wealth. "It's hard to believe, but you can believe it."
During three hours of marching, chanting and conversing Saturday, the participants were adamant about pioneering social and financial reform.
As they walked along Fifth Avenue South, passing the lush landscaping and popular restaurants, protesters bellowed statements such as: "What does democracy look like?"
To which others responded, "This is what democracy looks like!" Red, white and black signs were met with either cheers and thumbs up, or snubs and stares.
"This is ridiculous," said Christian Lefave, 28, a construction company owner from Windsor, Ontario. "I don't think they're accomplishing anything."
Lefave and his friend, Brittney Hoffman, 29, ducked between protesters on Fifth Avenue South, weaving toward the crosswalk at the U.S. 41 intersection.
"They're disruptive, unsafe, causing traffic," Lefave said. "They're costing the taxpayers money, too, by tying up police just so they have special accommodations."
Though the march allowed people to be heard, Hoffman questioned what the purpose of the protest was.
"Do they know why they are protesting?" she asked. "Do they actually know what they are talking about here to make a big protest?"
Though often criticized for not having a direct goal or purpose for the marches, Saturday's rally in Naples did have a clear theme: Citizens are frustrated.
It's frustration that unifies them, but the source of that frustration varies by individual.
"They're upset about so much, they can't say just one thing," Dr. Richard DelBoccio, a Naples dentist, said before entering Sushi-Thai on Fifth Avenue South. "People are holding different signs showing what's wrong. It's not just war, it's the sales tax, it's the job cuts, it's everything."
People came out of their shops or looked up from their meals as the distant chants, "hey corporation, give it back," approached. One observer said to John Ricco: "What are you protesting?"
"Everything," Ricco, 73, a Naples-area resident, fired back.
Many of Ricco's family members, including a grandson, did tours in Afghanistan and he wants the war to stop. But, for the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, the protest meant another chance to demand better pay for farm workers.
While the fervor continued from the previous protest, there wasn't the strength in numbers as before.
Karen Dwyer, a former high school English teacher and college professor, organized the protest Saturday and pointed to a lack of publicity for the dwindling numbers.
"The biggest problem was letting people know we're protesting," Dwyer said, confident that more people will be made aware of the protests in the future.
But to Lefave and Hoffman, the number of people isn't the point.
"There's no one here to make a decision," Lefave said. "This is a tourist destination with retirees."
Naples-area residents Barbara Bolcavage and Rich Rossi, authors of the book "Saving Middle America: Securing Financial Dreams," said grassroot efforts spur reform.
"It has to start with the people," said Bolcavage, who wasn't marching with the protesters. "We live in a capitalistic society, and they're going to do what capitalistic societies do. It has to start with them. They're tired of being taken advantage of."
The protests began in New York City on Sept. 17 with Occupy Wall Street. Within a month, they had spread worldwide. Simultaneously, 951 cities and 82 countries participated in "Occupy" protests on Oct. 15.
"Instead of a government run by corporations and other special interests, we want to change campaign finance laws to get politicians out of the pockets of lobbyists," a flier for the protest reads. "(We want to) overturn the notion of corporate personhood ... properly regulate and control corporations for the common good."