NAPLES — It’s been almost a month since the Governor ordered all restaurants, bars, gyms, and nightclubs to close, and hundreds of thousands of people have been unemployed that entire time, and unable to collect any benefits.
On Friday, dozens of them took to the streets in Naples to voice their frustration at a state they say has left them behind. They looked for support from drivers, because they sure aren’t getting it from their state.
“I have filed six weeks ago. My status is ‘eligible’ and ‘active’ and I’ve still yet to receive any pay whatsoever," said Ramona Ritter, who lost her job at a restaurant.
“I’m running out of my savings, basically, and I have to call friends, which is embarrassing, and family and just, that’s not me. So we just want to get paid, that’s all," said Holly Harding, who also previously worked at a restaurant in downtown Naples.
Protest organizer Bonnie Armstrong said this demonstration was a last resort.
“People have been writing, and sending letters to their congressman and their representatives, and Twitter, you see a lot of that, but unless you actually put your feet to the ground and draw some attention, nothing’s going to change," said Armstrong.
But some of the people we spoke with said, if the state doesn’t do something soon, it’s going to get a lot worse than just signs on a street corner.
“Desperate people do desperate things. Even if your compass, your moral compass faces true north, if your kids are hungry, you’re going to steal," said a protester who wished not to be identified by name.
All of the protesters are hoping it doesn’t come to that, but the numbers aren’t looking good. Right now, the Department of Economic Opportunity says it has paid out a total of 141,451 claims. More people than that filed for unemployment just last week alone.
“There’s way more of us out there. You know that’s a lot of people whose claims have not even been processed or looked at," said Armstrong.
Armstrong hopes her protest will get them looked at, once and for all.