PENSACOLA, Fla. (WEAR) — Despite the rain, leaders with Indivisible Northwest Florida and Save Pensacola Beach held up signs and peacefully protested on Saturday morning.
Vickie Neopolitan, President of Indivisible Northwest Florida, said Bill H2370-- which passed through the U.S. House of Representatives last month -- would take away beach land that belongs to the people of Escambia County.
"We hope to raise awareness for people to call Senator Nelson, specifically," Neopolitan said.
This, under a 1947 agreement with the federal government.
"Right now this island is very populated with tourists because it looks the way it does, because it is not overdeveloped, because it is not overpopulated, because there is not huge long lines of cars trying to get from one side of the island to another," Neopolitan said.
People who support the bill -- like Benjamin Stevenson, President of Pensacola Beach Advocates -- say it's a good idea, but there is a misunderstanding about the bill.
"I think it is an incredible great step for the public," Stevenson said. "This concept we're going to privatize the beach; it's not going to happen. What all we're doing is changing the lease hold ownership into a fee simple ownership."
Congressman Matt Gaetz sent Channel 3 the following statement:
"I'm afraid our opponents are misinformed," it said. "This legislation only grants a private-fee simple title to the property literally below peoples' homes. The remainder will be governed by our local governments, as they always have. We pass this legislation pursuant to resolutions of support from Escambia and Santa Rosa Counties."
For now, Neopolitan is sending a message to state leaders.
"We need for him to back off and withdraw his support of the bill." she said.
Protesters concerned new bill will change Pensacola Beach culture