A Tale of Two Rallies With Political, Gun Messages

Two dueling rallies with political overtones took place in Lakeland Friday, both of them featuring out-of-town advocates. Here’s a look at them, as reported in The Morning Paper:

Voter Registration Rally

  • WHAT, WHO: March for Our Lives Road to Change Tour of Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School students.
  • CAUSE: Register voters – turning the energy of anti-gun-violence rallies into action, according to the organization’s website.
  • ATTENDANCE: About 120
  • WHERE: Mega Marcado in Wabash Plaza
  • POLITICIANS: About a half-dozen candidates, all Democrats or running in non-partisan races.
  • QUOTE: “We are working with them to get kids registered to vote. In Florida, students can register to vote at age 16. Even though they have to wait until 18 to vote, we let them know they can influence those who can vote.” – Nancy Batista, state director of Mi Familia Vota, a co-sponsor of the event.

Gun Rights Rally

  • WHAT, WHO: “Rally for Our Rights” event held by state Rep. Ross Spano of Brandon, a candidate for the Republican nomination for U.S. House District 15.
  • CAUSE: Support of the Second Amendment
  • ATTENDANCE: About two dozen
  • WHERE: City Commissioner Michael Dunn’s military surplus store
  • POLITICIANS: Spano, state Rep. Sam Killebrew, R-Winter Haven, and Mike McCalister, a Republican running for commissioner of agriculture.
  • QUOTE: “We thought it was important to respond, to give a counter balance, to give a counter argument, to give a counter voice to those that are law-abiding citizens, to those that believe strongly in the fundamental right that we have under the constitutional right to keep and bear arms.” – Spano


  • Lake Morton Plaza faces massive repairs after last week’s fire, including a roof replacement and odor abatement of 90 percent of the rooms; managers say it’s still too early to know when the 128 evacuated residents can return.
  • A road rage incident on Bartow Highway in Highland City led to the death of a Bartow man as both vehicles ran off the road.