While the town of Fort Myers Beach battles street preacher Adam Lacroix in court and Lee County Deputies avoid him after losing a lawsuit for violating his free speech, local residents and restaurant customers are taking matters in to their own hands.
Adam Lacroix and a handful of other street preachers have found a home in Times Square on Fort Myers Beach. While nobody denies the preachers have a right to express their views, it’s how they’re doing it that’s causing a huge problem for Times Square businesses.
Typically on a busy Saturday night you’ll find a street preacher near the clock in Times square. They use bullhorns and speakers to amplify their message and big signs with dead babies to get their opinion out about abortion. They also call beachgoers vulgar names if they are drinking alcohol or wearing bikinis.
While none of what the preachers are doing seems to violate any law, it’s taking a toll on the restaurants in the area, especially Plaka which is the closest to where the activity is taking place. Customers get up and leave to avoid hearing the language or see the signs. Others simply stay away from the square. The town is entangled in a federal lawsuit with Lacroix who filed the suit after the town tried to write him a violation for violating their sign ordinance. Until that is resolved code enforcement has been instructed to stay away from the preachers.
This past weekend a few locals came up with a plan to fight fire with fire. They have their own bullhorns and try to overpower the preachers with sound. And, they kept the fight going as long as they needed to. See the video HERE.
Joy Keim has lived in the Times Square area for more than a decade. With her own bullhorn in hand, Joy began to fight back against the street preachers. She says the people that own businesses in Times Square are her neighbors and friends. “It breaks my heart to see their businesses hurt by this selfish, greedy, fake. He doesn’t care about religion, only lining his pocket. His lawsuits against the town and county have cost taxpayers thousands. It embarrasses me to see visitors come and be harassed by his obnoxious rhetoric. He calls women whores and children bastards. He stands before God and harasses people hoping for a confrontation so he can sue. A few weeks ago when he had his abortion signs out 4 people were arrested because he was so ugly. I didn’t do this for me, even though I can’t stand him, but for the business owners and the people that work so hard taking care of the locals and visitors that are just trying to make a living and support their own families.”
Local residents also know that the street preachers record their videos for social media platforms like YouTube so if they can get popular music playing near the street preachers video cameras, those videos will be kicked off social media for copyright infringement.
In addition to the noise, the preachers often use bright white lights, in clear violation of the town’s turtle ordinance. Joy tells us last Saturday night when she confronted the group she did have some backup. “A local came to me and was upset about the bright white lights that were lighting up the square and beach. It’s turtle season and we all do our part to help protect them. We suffer stumbling in the darkness on our way to the parking lot or restaurant to protect the sea turtles, yet he is allowed to use large white lights during turtle season. Why does the town allow this? We want answers and sometimes you just have to stir the pot to see what floats to the surface.”
Joy says the response to her plan to stop the preachers was all positive. “People were cheering us on, thanking us for stepping up and doing something when the town or county won’t. It was very obvious we flustered them early on as Adam Lacroix, the head henchman, was not even around when we started. His little followers had to call him and get him to come down for help. That made me happy as I know we disrupted his Saturday night, just like he does to everyone else. I’m hoping for a bigger show of support next time with more megaphones, signs, and the all important umbrellas to block him. If he can’t see anyone he has no one to harass.”
The downtown merchants association recently received approval to add a band to the square for Saturday nights. Right now a band only plays on Friday night, typically High Tide. Adding Saturday night was requested in part to drown out the street preachers in the square.