Pro and anti-choice demonstrators duel in contentious Naples protest

The demonstration at the outset of the event. (All photos: Author)

Oct. 2, 2021 by David Silverberg

On a day of national demonstrations in favor of the right of women to choose abortion, Naples, Fla., was treated to an unusually raucous and contentious rally by pro-choice and anti-abortion advocates.

There were no arrests, although individuals, particularly anti-abortionists, while staying non-violent, became aggressive at times. Demonstrators shouted dueling chants and anti-abortionists attempted to drown out scheduled pro-choice speakers.

The demonstration took place in front of the Collier County courthouse in the county government center at Airport Pulling Rd. and Route 41 and then moved to the sidewalk along Airport Pulling Rd.

At the scheduled start of the demonstration at 10 am, there were about 100 pro-choice demonstrators and 22 anti-abortion demonstrators present. Although the numbers swelled during the next two hours, the ratio of abortion opponents to supporters remained about the same. At its height perhaps a total of 300 to 400 people were in the crowd.

There was no separation between the demonstrators and police made no effort to keep them apart. According to one Collier County sheriff’s deputy, in the public space police were not authorized to keep the competing parties apart or intervene unless a crime was actively committed. Nor was a permit required for the “Mobilize and Defend Our Reproductive Rights” rally, so there was no need to enforce a permit’s requirements.

Pro and anti-choice demonstrators mix together as the rally proceeds.
An anti-abortionist weighs into the crowd to harangue demonstrators.
Collier County Sheriff’s deputies look on while the action unfolds.
Collier County teacher Corrie Vega recounts her experiences of sexual assault and harassment despite anti-abortion chants and heckling.
Rev. Tony Fisher of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Greater Naples makes his speech despite anti-abortion heckling.
Pro-choice demonstrators line Airport Pulling Road after the rally on the Courthouse steps.

Liberty lives in light

(c) 2021 by David Silverberg

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