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Peaceful protesters against Naples beach closures

While the beach was quiet Sunday after being shut down by the City of Naples for concerns over lack of social distancing, peaceful protesters made sure their voices were heard against that decision this weekend.

The decision to close the city’s public beaches is not making some people happy.

A peaceful protest formed on 5th Avenue S at Gulf Shore Boulevard Sunday against the decision to close down the beaches after they were back up for a short time.

For Joe Gonzales, the barricades and yellow tape at Naples beach accesses represent an infringement on his freedoms.

“I just don’t think the ability for the government to take away through an edict or order or anything like that at the snap of the finger is something we should be OK with,” Gonzales said.

That’s why Gonzales says he and his wife jumped at the opportunity to peacefully protest after Naples beaches were closed, as they joined other who agree with them.

“I’m hoping to see everything reopen as quickly as possible,” Gonzales said. “That’s what I’m hopeful of.”

But, after the crowding at Naples Beach Saturday, many visitors traveling from Miami, some neighbors and businesses say closing the beach is what’s safest for now.

“Let’s care about business, but let’s care a little bit about people too,” said Giuseppe Gargiulo, the manager of Bice Ristorante in Naples. “And I feel very not secure to see all these people around.”

“It did get out of hand,” Silvana Selfollari said. “They were very close.”

Travelers coming from the Miami area, who were hoping to enjoy the beach this weekend, just wish they would’ve made it before they closed.

“We haven’t been able to do a whole lot for a long time so we were excited to be able to get out and run around a little bit,” said Jeff Fuller, who was visiting from Miami said.

And that’s something that Gonzales and other protesters think everyone should be able to do.

“I think every individual has the right to pursue happiness,” Gonzales said.

Naples City Council plans to discuss the next steps for the beaches 1 p.m. Monday afternoon during an emergency meeting.

“Of course, beach open makes more business, but the right way,” Gargiulo said. “Naples became crazy the past week.”

Reporter:Breana Ross
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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