Just before the Monroe Farmers Market began winding down on Saturday, a group of Back the Blue supporters began arriving to show their support for the men and women in law enforcement tasked with protecting and serving the local community.
As was the case with the peaceful protests in previous weeks following the death of George Floyd at the hands of Mineapolis police, the event began with a prayer. Members of the community held up signs that read, “We’ve got your 6,” “We back the Blue,” or just the blue USA flag representing law enforcement. There also was a refreshment stand handing out hot dogs and soft drinks.
Some members of law enforcement stopped by to thank the crowd and Monroe Police Chief R.V. Watts addressed them after the prayer. He thanked them for their show of support and let them know, as he had with the protests in support of Black Lives Matter, that he respects their First Amendment right to peaceable assembly.
“Most of the guys who serve with us, like myself and Capt. (John) Pilgrim here, we’re United States Marine veterans. We were there first before we were law enforcement officers. We swore an oath to uphold, support and defend the Constitution of the United States against foreign and domestic – and that’s what we will continue to do. That’s a calling and those of you who have done this job before, those of you are veterans and those of you who have served in first responders, public safety -you know that – it’s a calling, it is. It ain’t for the pay. It ain’t for the gratitude. It’s because you want to make a difference. You want to help others,” Watts said. “I’m humbled and I’m grateful and thankful to be serving in this community, in this state. And I’m very grateful to be able to live in the United States of America. Thank you all so much. God Bless you.”
Adolphus and Mary Gaither, of Social Circle, attended with their son. Adolphus Gaither said he brought his son along because his son “needed to know and understand too.”
“I’ve lived here for 22 years and I’ve always supported law enforcement,” Gaither said. “He needs to know.”
Stephanie Prather, who organized the event, said she did it because recent events had put a bad image of the police officers and she wanted to make sure that our local law enforcement knew that they were not thought of in that light.
“Our town is definitely not like that. The officers are tightknit with our community and we just wanted to shed some light on that. I mean there is a good side to law enforcement and they need support now more than ever,” Prather said.
The rally sprung up at short notice and was still well attended. However, based on the number of people who later read about it and expressed regret that they didn’t know sooner, it is likely to be very well supported next time around.
“And there will be another one,” Prather said.
Click or tap on this link become a friend of the Back the Blue Facebook page to find out when another one may be organized.