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Collier Students Rally for Gun Reform

Rachel Iacovone
Collier County students stand atop the Collier County sign on the corner of US 41 and Airport Pulling Road in Naples during the We Call B.S. student-led rally for gun reform.

Collier County students rallied for gun reform Friday night, just over a week after the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

“Politicians who sit in their gilded houses and senate seats funded by the NRA, telling us nothing could have ever been done to prevent this, we call B.S.”

Emma González unknowingly created a rallying call when she told the crowd at an anti-gun rally in Fort Lauderdale, a few days after the shooting at her high school, that the students were calling B.S.

An hour and a half’s drive across the state and a week’s time later, students in Collier County were saying the same, led by another Emma – 16-year-old Naples High School student Emma Sullivan – who rallied her troops for the We Call B.S. student-led rally for gun reform.

“I was raised in this generation where we see a lot of cruelty, but we’re just getting to the age where we see how horrendous it is," Sullivan said. "And, after seeing those students at Parkland, it’s our time.”

Hundreds gathered outside the Collier County Courthouse in Naples, holding hand-lettered signs that said things like “Congress, porn is more important than a child’s life?” and “Mental illness is global. Mass shootings are uniquely American.”

After some student speeches, the group moved to the busy corner of US 41 and Airport Pulling Road.

Credit Rachel Iacovone
Protesters line US 41 in Naples during the We Call B.S. student-led rally for gun reform.

“There’s a lot of younger kids because it’s more focused on, like, us,” said Marina Coyle, a Community School of Naples student.

She attends the school with 13-year-old Skye Worland.

“I don’t know the people who personally got killed, but I know people who were friends with them," Worland said. "And, they’re doing what we’re doing right now, so…”

Skye used to live in Miami, so it was through her friends there – the ones who were friends with victims at Marjory Stoneman Douglas – that she first heard the news.

She stood beside Marina, on the front lines of the march, as Marina’s father, Cormac Coyle looked on.

“Everybody has a line, over which, you cannot sit back and take it anymore; you have to stand up and make your voice heard," Coyle said. "And, I think we’re definitely there.”

Hours before the group gathered on Friday, Gov. Rick Scott held a news conference where he called for barring people under 21 and the mentally ill from purchasing guns.

“That’s not going to protect our kids in their classrooms,” Coyle said. “I mean, what’s to stop a 21-year-old or 22-year-old doing the same thing? I mean, that’s nonsense to say that’s a solution.”

Credit Rachel Iacovone / WGCU
Collier County students stand front row during the opening speeches at the We Call B.S. student-led rally for gun reform in Naples.

Others weren’t as sure, even with the assumed stances of their party affiliation – like the president of the Bonita Springs and South Lee County Democratic Club, Steven Blumrosen.

“It’s too complicated an issue for me," Blumrosen said. "I think I’m a pretty smart person, but I can’t find a solution. I wrote on Facebook the other day, maybe the children will find a way, and tonight, I really believe it’s possible.”

As if on cue, the children standing atop the Collier County sign borrowed another line popularized by the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas, as they began chanting, "Never again!"

Rachel Iacovone is a reporter and associate producer of Gulf Coast Live for WGCU News. Rachel came to WGCU as an intern in 2016, during the presidential race. She went on to cover Florida Gulf Coast University students at President Donald Trump's inauguration on Capitol Hill and Southwest Floridians in attendance at the following day's Women's March on Washington.Rachel was first contacted by WGCU when she was managing editor of FGCU's student-run media group, Eagle News. She helped take Eagle News from a weekly newspaper to a daily online publication with TV and radio branches within two years, winning the 2016 Society of Professional Journalists Mark of Excellence Award for Best Use of Multimedia in a cross-platform series she led for National Coming Out Day. She also won the Mark of Excellence Award for Feature Writing for her five-month coverage of an FGCU student's transition from male to female.As a WGCU reporter, she produced the first radio story in WGCU's Curious Gulf Coast project, which answered the question: Does SWFL Have More Cases of Pediatric Cancer?Rachel graduated from Florida Gulf Coast University with a bachelor's degree in journalism.
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