On Sunday, October 4, my husband and I, 75 and 77 respectively, went to a presentation by Vote Common Good held in the Veterans Park parking lot on Marco Island.
To quote their website, “Vote Common Good is inspiring, energizing, and mobilizing people of faith to make the common good their voting criteria and to pursue faith, hope and love for a change on election day and prevent the re-election of Donald Trump.” The event was sponsored by the Democratic Women’s Club of Marco Island. I’m a member.
We attended in spite of the fact I had read an earlier, local, social media post that said, “The line of sight is good from the top of the Regions Bank building.” The post was later taken down.
There was music beginning with God Bless American, followed by This Little Light of Mine, and ending with Amazing Grace. Speakers included an Air Force combat veteran, a woman speaking from a mother’s and survivor’s perspective, a long time Marco resident, a musician from NYC who lost eleven friends to COVID-19, two pastors, a local politician, and others.
Those of us who were there to listen to the program were seated in front of the stage. A larger presence, including at least one man wearing a Proud Boys hat, stood behind us, waving large flags, and constantly interrupting the speakers.
The seated group all wore masks; I detected no mask wearers in the standing group. The presenters invited all to sit, the hecklers preferred to stand across the back. Police intervened when loud engines were revved or horns honked.
One of the speakers was a young Black woman who gave a spoken word performance similar to Brandon Leake who recently won “America’s Got Talent.”
While she was speaking, a man in the back yelled, “Every black should be aborted right now!”
The speaker grew up in Mississippi. She was experienced. She politely addressed the heckler by saying, “I see your flag. We do not fear White Supremacists.” She then calmly and cooling went on with her performance.
Me? Not so much. I sat quietly and continued to listen but I felt neither calm nor cool. I was stunned. In fact, I wrote down the heckler’s exact words so I wouldn’t later think they were a figment of my imagination.
It’s one thing to see groups with large Trump flags, outnumbering and heckling a peaceful group on television. It’s another thing to be there, in person, on an island that’s referred to as “paradise,” on a rainy Sunday afternoon.
Marco Island is not owned by a particular group; although some would like you to think so. Put up yard signs, speak out, show up, be brave. Groups like I experienced may try to intimidate you at the polls. For the sake of your country, vote anyway!