| Naples Daily News
Collier County residents protest the US Presidential election results in North Naples
Collier County residents protest election results at Stop the Steal rally in North Naples
As the nation continued to wait on presidential election results, supporters of President Donald Trump gathered in Naples with music and “Make America Great Again” attire for a protest Thursday evening.
About 100 people gathered at the busy intersection of Pine Ridge Road and Airport-Pulling Road as traffic passed and many vehicles honked in support. The event was pegged as a “Stop the Steal Peaceful Protest.”
Meanwhile votes continued to be counted in six key states of Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Georgia, Arizona, Nevada and Alaska.
Some news organizations, including The New York Times, had not yet named a winner in the presidential election in Arizona and reported Biden had captured 253 electoral votes as of Thursday evening.
Trump had captured 214 electoral votes as of Thursday evening. Biden urged patience as the ballot counting continued two days after the election while Trump pursued legal options in some states.
On Twitter, the president pushed unfounded allegations of voter fraud and in one tweet called for the ongoing vote count to cease. Several of the president’s supporters at the event in Naples also pushed baseless allegations of voter fraud.
Yvette Benarroch, a Marco Island resident of 17 years, helped plan the event with her organization, the Republican National Hispanic Assembly of Florida.
“All we want is for all legible, legal votes to be counted and for a fair event,” Benarroch said. “We have that right. Our electoral process has been tainted. This is the United States of America and it should not be happening here.”
When asked how the electoral process had been tainted, Benarroch said Georgia should have already named Trump the winner of the election.
Trump led Biden by fewer than 10,000 votes in Georgia on Thursday evening. Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperge tweeted about 6 p.m. that more than 36,000 votes had yet to be counted in the state.
Earlier in the day Gabriel Sterling, Georgia’s voting system implementation manager, rejected claims of fraud brought by Trump and his allies, saying, “We’ve taken the steps at every level to secure that vote and make sure the integrity of the ballot is protected.”
Supporters of the president at the Naples event danced to pro-Trump Salsa music, the YMCA and a rap song with lyrics in support of the president.
Many supporters wore red, white and blue and some held signs with messages of unsubstantiated claims of election fraud.
Viviane Falleti, a resident of Naples for 12 years, attended Thursday’s event because she loves Trump, she said.
“I think he’s amazing,” Falleti said. “He loves American, he loves Americans. He is the president for everyone.”
Facebook shut down a fast-growing pro-Trump “Stop the Steal” group calling for “boots on the ground to protect the integrity of the vote” over “worrying calls for violence,” USA Today reported.
The Facebook group, which attracted more than 350,000 members and nearly 7,000 posts in two days, was being used to organize protests with the rallying cry that Biden was trying to steal the election.
“In line with the exceptional measures that we are taking during this period of heightened tension, we have removed the Group ‘Stop the Steal,’ which was creating real-world events,” Facebook said in a statement. “The group was organized around the delegitimization of the election process, and we saw worrying calls for violence from some members of the group.”
The group, which Rolling Stone says was started by the conservative nonprofit Women for America First, propagated debunked conspiracy theories such as voters were encouraged to vote by Sharpie so their ballots would be illegible or that Trump votes were being thrown away.
Many attendees at Thursday’s protest in Naples said they planned to return to the intersection at 5 p.m. Friday for another “Stop the Steal Peaceful Protest.”
It could take several more days for a clear winner in the presidential election to emerge and for the vote count to conclude, officials report.