Suspense built on Wednesday when a notice of a protest march was found circulating through social media. This time it would be pinpointing Marco Island as the location for the next march for justice concerning the George Floyd incident.
The initial call for marchers identified the Mission Plaza on the south end of the island as a rallying point. However, as that word circulated throughout the island management and businesses took steps to limit the parking to just customers of the popular plaza. This would cause organizers of the march to rethink the logistics.
Originally the group was prepared to march down Collier Boulevard, but upon thinking through their original plans they opted to change their plans to include staging at the Veterans Community Park and walking down Bald Eagle Drive and ending at the Marco City Hall and Police Complex.
While marchers were laying out their arrangements, city officials were working on a strategy to keep those intent on marching safe, as well as those residents who may have been exposed to the march.
The Marco Island Civic Association took the unusual precaution of closing off the Residents Beach facilities at 3:00pm to secure their facilities as the marchers were planning on proceeding down South Collier Boulevard to San Marco Road.
Police Chief Tracy Frazzano would work with City Manager Mike McNees to refine their preparations. They would utilize assistance from within the Collier County Sheriff’s Office to augment their personnel to assure they had the necessary resources to insure a safe environment for all.
City Manager Mike McNees would make a courtesy call at Veterans Community Park on those intending to participate in the march. He would explain the community’s intent to provide a safe venue within which the participants could exercise their First Amendment Rights of Free Speech.
A moderate law enforcement presence was visible as officers could be seen along the route of the protest march, while overhead a Collier County Sheriff’s helicopter surveyed the area from the air.
After a number of speeches by participants of the march they would leave the parking lot and make the short walk down to the municipal complex on Bald Eagle Drive. There they would be met by Police Chief Frazzano and a contingent of officers. Those participating in the protest march would make their grievances known for about 30 minutes as a light rain fell on all in attendance.
Only one slight incident occurred which necessitated the taking into custody one of those attendees. Otherwise those in attendance, although sometime loud and strident as they made their points, would do so in a peaceful subdued manner.
“We appreciate the professionalism shown by our personnel and those that assisted us. We also appreciated the manner in which those that participate in the march handled themselves,” said Frazzano.