Demonstrators Stage "Read In" To Save Downtown Library

Gulfport residents intent on saving the downtown library held a protest beside the storm damaged building Monday afternoon.

The novel might read: "As the fog rolled in from the Sound one misty morning, more than a dozen passionate souls gathered beside a storm-damaged building."

Mary Ann Barkley says the intention is straightforward.

"People who want to preserve our library. In this present spot," she says.

A variety of protest signs shared that message with the passing public. Demonstrators say their once beautiful beach front library could and should be restored.

"We've lost too much. We don't have to tear down anything else. The storm took a lot, but there's been a lot gone down since the storm took it. And we don't need to lose anything else," said Betty Bittner.

"Across the highway and we would march over here in Jones Park. That's where we practiced for band," recalled one young woman who joined the protest group.

As they read books in silent protest, many recalled personal stories, like children and grandchildren enjoying story time and summer reading programs at the old library.

"It's just too pretty to be torn down. And I think it's ridiculous with all the damage we've had to try and take away the last vestige of beauty we have on the beach," said Margaret Moyse.

District 2 supervisor Kim Savant declined our request to discuss the library issue on camera. But he told WLOX News the board of supervisors accepted the deed to this land from the City of Gulfport and agreed with the city's request that the storm damaged building be torn down.

Supervisor Savant also said the county stands to lose millions of dollars in FEMA money if it tries to rebuild the library at the old location, so close to the water.

Protestors are passing petitions and promising more demonstrations.

"Bring awareness to this issue. We were not really given an opportunity to hold meetings with the City Council or supervisors. And we would like to have this opportunity to express our concerns," said Barkley.

Demonstrators will stage another protest this Saturday, March 1st, from 10:00AM until 2:00PM. They plan on bringing their children and grand children to the weekend event.