Event to Honor Fallen Police Officer on Hold After Chief Allegedly Withdraws Over Republican Guests

October 2, 2019 Updated: October 2, 2019

A charity football game to honor an officer killed in a mass shooting in California is on hold after organizers say the police chief pulled officers out of the honor guard because the event included Republican speakers and a Trump supporter who was slated to sing the national anthem.

The “Blue Bowl” charity football game in Ventura County was to occur this coming weekend to raise money for the family of Sergeant Ron Helus, who was killed in the 2018 Borderline Bar & Grill shooting, and as a tribute to other fallen officers.

But the organizing charity, Fallen Officers, has now put the event on hold, claiming in a statement that the local police chief derailed the event by persuading the Sheriff and the family of the fallen officer to withdraw telling them “this is not Trump country.”

The issue is the political persuasion of the VIPs.

Stressing that their events are not political, the Fallen Officers said that the original line up of VIPs had included the district’s Democrat assembly member, Jacqui Irwin, and the public safety liaison officer for the California Democrat Governor.

The flag-draped casket of Ventura County Sheriff Sgt. Ron Helus arrives on stage for a memorial service for Sgt. Helus at Calvary Community Church in Westlake Village, California, on Nov. 15, 2018. (Al Seib-Pool/Getty Images)

Also on the billing was local actor Scott Baoi, a Republican supporter who attended the same church as Sergeant Helus, and Joy Villa, a singer known for being a Trump supporter.

But when they later added, Ronda Kennedy, the Republican candidate who had run against the already-invited sitting assembly member, he got a phone call from Thousand Oaks Police Chief Tim Hagel.

Fallen Officers claims Hagel said it was “too political”, threatening to withdraw support if Republican guests were not changed.

“The only thing you could have made this worse was by inviting Dick Cheney or Sara Huckabee Sanders,” Hagel said, according to Vice President of the Fallen Officers Mike Randall.  “This is not Trump Country and that slogan making America great again is not popular within 1200 square miles of this event!”

Randall claims that Hagel told him, “These people do not represent our fabric of our community and nothing good will come out of this event by having them there.”

Randall said that Hagel also started to question inviting the singer, Joy Villa.

According to Randall, Hagel said in one call, “I’m looking at her website right now and it starts out with Making America Great and that slogan is not popular for over 1200 square miles around here.”

“We would have to put major security teams around here. She is not representative of our ideology of our community,” Hagel said according to Fallen Officers.

In a statement to Fox News, Ventura County Sheriff’s Department said, “The ‘Blue Bowl’ event was represented as a charitable flag football tournament to raise funds for the family of Sergeant Ron Helus. An event that would honor Ron’s memory and provide support to his wife Karen and son Jordan.

According to the Sheriff’s Office, “As the event began to materialize, we became concerned with the behavior of some of the organizers of the event. Although I believe the organizers had good intentions, the event was moving in a direction we no longer felt comfortable supporting.”

The singer, Villa, said that she was heartbroken by the situation in a video posted on Twitter. Describing herself as “a Trump-supporting conservative, and a black Latino woman,” Villa said that her father was in the military police and that she had many friends who are retired. “I back the blue,” she said.

“I volunteered my time to sing the national anthem. It was booked over a month ago,” she said. “I am shocked. I am blown away that I can’t do this, that I can’t stand up there proudly support my country, support those who died.”

According to the Fallen Officer’s website, the pre-game memorial usually has local, national leaders, and speakers who support Law Enforcement.

The Fallen Officers supports the Robert L. Zore Foundation, which was created in memory of Robert L. Zore who was killed in the line of duty on Christmas Day, 1983.

His daughter, Rosemary Zore, who was just 7 at the time, is the founder of Fallen Officers. Speaking on a Sept. 26 video, she said that they always make clear to invited speakers that the memorial is never used as a political platform.

“When we invite speakers we do not care what political party they are affiliated with. This is strictly about the fallen officer and all of law enforcement.”

She said that the point of the events is to show unity for law enforcement. “What better way to do this than to have people who are different.”

“There are two things that we always say strongly and we believe should never be involved in politics,” said Zore,” and that is the military and law enforcement.”

Follow Simon on Twitter: @SPVeazey
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