Before Tuesday evening’s Fort Lauderdale City Commission meeting, protesters gathered outside City Hall with signs asking motorists to honk if they wanted to end the gun shows that take place at Holiday Park eight times a year.
This was not Barbara Markley’s first gun show protest outside of Fort Lauderdale’s City Hall. It was her sixth.
“I feel like this one is different because the community is activated,” Markley said. “Friends of mine who’ve been on the sidelines for the past year that I’ve been doing this, they’re all texting me, like ‘OK, I’m ready to do something now.' ”
Markley is a Fort Lauderdale resident who wants the gun shows at War Memorial Auditorium in the city-owned Holiday Park to end for good after the Parkland school shooting. This time she invited all 11,000 Broward County school teachers in the teachers’ union to come join in her protest.
Educators like Sarah Leonardi. She teaches 10th grade English at Nova High School.
“I hope they get rid of the gun show,” she said. “I hope that that the county can make a decision on banning assault rifles and high-capacity magazines. They can really do a lot.”
Mayor Jack Seiler did ask the gun show back in February to cancel its event in Holiday Park, scheduled for the weekend directly following the Parkland shooting.
The lease for the gun show to continue using War Memorial Auditorium will come before the commission for renegotiation on July 1.
To the commissioners, Markley read the following ode during public comment:
“Our commission sells guns although we object
They don't understand their job's to protect
Our children are dying from so much violence
But all the commission will offer is silence
They claim it's not them, they can't end the lease
But Broward & Palm Beach disagree.
Thirty years' worth of guns have caused us great harm
But the commission can't see a cause for alarm
They shrug and demur that they can't help at all
And then change the subject to pickle ball.”
This was the last meeting for Fort Lauderdale’s current commission and for nine-year Mayor Seiler. The next meeting for the new administration is scheduled for March 20.