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Protester at campaign rally ordered to move

By Staff | Oct 9, 2008

Naples resident Betsy Ross had to move her signs and her protest away from Alico Arena on Wednesday, where Democratic vice presidential candidate Joe Biden spoke at a campaign rally.

Ross was sitting just outside the arena next to yellow signs with black letters, one of which read: “Obama hangs out with terrorists.”

Biden’s running mate, Barack Obama, has come under fire from conservatives recently for his connection with William Ayres, a former member of the Weather Underground, a 1960s radical group. Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin has brought up the connection in recent stump speeches, including her Monday speech at the Germain Arena in Estero.

At about 1 p.m., five hours before Biden’s scheduled appearance, Lee County Sheriff’s Officer Steve Engle asked Ross to move her protest to a designated protest area located along Florida Gulf Coast University Parkway. 

Ross complied without much fuss but told Engle protesters at Palin’s event were able to get much closer.

“When we were waiting in line the protesters were right there and we were talking to them,” Ross told Engle.

“It’s just a matter of there’s ground rules we set out. It was publicized that there was a designated protest area,” Engle told reporters.

Ross, who was sitting next to a tree in the shade, asked Engle if there was shade in the designated area. He admitted there was none.

“I’m scared,” Ross said of Obama’s potential to be president. “He’s very inexperienced.”

She said the Tuesday night debate between Obama and Republican presidential candidate John McCain prompted the protest. 

“I didn’t even decide to come here until after the debate last night, I was so upset,” she said.