A women’s group based in St. Petersburg’s historic Kenwood neighborhood protested a new canal planned for the area yesterday morning. The women, who call their group the Muskeg Occult Preservation Society, or MOPS, gathered outside City Hall with signs painted with “Justice for Swamp Witches,” and “For the Love of God, Stop Draining the Swamp,” to call attention to what they see as an affront to their culture.
When asked to explain the group’s name, MOPS spokeswoman Nancy Fleeg had this to say: “We thought ‘Muskeg population’ sounded better than swamp witches, or what the Spanish settlers used to call us: gator women. It’s a perception thing.”
“Ever since people found Florida, they’ve been trying to drain our swamp,” said a woman in an unseasonably heavy robe who identified herself as The Scarlet Mamba, “and they use those canals to do it!”
“It’s not this canal in particular that we’re upset about,” said Fleeg, who was holding a sign painted with “Get Out of My Swamp” in green glitter. “I mean there’s no swamp in St. Pete to defend anymore, and I think the canal we’re protesting is meant to help stop flash floods, which is good. But none of us had anything planned for today, so it was good timing.”
Swamp witch communities thrived throughout Florida, with strong populations in Broward, Dade, and Collier counties. When Florida’s popularity as a tourist destination exploded in the early 20th century, canals were dug en masse throughout the state’s southern regions to drain the swamps and create more dry land for property development. The native swamp witch population dwindled as a result, and the communities that remained were driven further inland.
“I honestly don’t think we’re going to stop this canal,” said Fleeg. “Some of the girls, like Mamba, are really into the idea of saving the swamp witch lifestyle. You know, sacrificing gators, cursing people, dancing naked in cypress forests, stuff like that. But for most of us, it’s just nice to spend time with friends and get out of the house.”
Editor’s Update: At the time of publishing, the vote for the proposed Kenwood canal is on hold after County Commissioner Harold Krall’s tongue fell out of his mouth, preventing him from saying “aye,” or “nay.”
Photo courtesy of https://www.flickr.com/photos/shankbone/