Signs promote gun-rights and gun-control messages along Sarasota's bayfront.
The Sarasota chapter of the Brady Campaign to Protest Gun Violence typically gathers on Thursday afternoons along U.S. 41 near the bayfront. The group has been doing it for seven years, but the tone of the demonstration changed on Feb. 14, the one-year anniversary of the 17 deaths at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High in Parkland.
On Thursday, members of the group help signs that bore the names of the students and staff who died.
"They can’t be here, so we are,” said chapter president Carol Rescigno.
One demonstrator, 18-year-old Madison Markham, decided to show up on behalf of her peers.
Markham, who attends State College of Florida as a dual enrollment student, said she knew fellow high school students who were banned from carrying backpacks on campus for a week following an incident last school year in which a student was found to have a gun at Bayshore High School.
“It felt like we were in trouble for something that is our legislators’ fault,” she said. “Because a child should not be able to obtain a gun.”
Those in support of the gun-control message weren't alone.
Tom and Susan Caparell stood near the crosswalk, just down the street from the Brady Campaign. “Come and take it,” Tom’s own sign declared, bearing the image of a rifle and an American flag.
“We see [the Brady Campaign] out here every Thursday without any opposition, so we just want to politely be out here and voice our opinion, just like they’re voicing theirs,” Tom Caparell said.
Throughout the afternoon, demonstrators on both sides of the issue got their share of backlash from passers-by.
“We’ve been doing this since the mid-term elections, and we don’t want to stop because the message is important,” Tom Caparell said.
"These people drive by and say it doesn’t have anything to do with them, but it does," Brady Campaign demonstrator Maria Thacker said. "We're all at risk."