The tight-knit community of Champaign, Illinois, has come together in support of its law enforcement after the town’s police department headquarters was targeted by vandals. Over 300 people showed up at a demonstration, performing prayer and public speaking in defense of local officers.
One of the organizers of the pro-police rally, Tim Voges, characterized the meeting as a show of support as well as a pledge to respect Champaign police.
“We need to show that the community supports our police,” Voges told WCIA, “knowing that there’s some things that need to be worked on, but they are still our police and we need to respect them.”
On Aug. 13, under the guise of a peaceful protest, the vandals approached the property and used non-water-soluble paints, glue, and “other materials” to deface the building, sidewalk, and other public infrastructures, according to a press release.
City cleanup crews spent the next morning removing the graffiti, which included racial slurs in violation of Champaign’s Human Rights Ordinance and images that implied a threat to city employees.
“The City of Champaign supports peaceful protests and our residents’ rights to self-expression,” local officials explained in the press release, “however, the defacing of public property, like what occurred last night at the Champaign Police Department, will not be tolerated.”
The peaceful rally organized in response to the vandalism was held at Lincoln Square Mall in Urbana. The proceedings began with a prayer to unite the group in their common cause. Then a series of speakers took turns speaking.
Then a group of over 300 lined up on Champaign’s Race Street and waved American flags and held hand-painted signs with slogans like, “Champaign County supports our police” and “God Bless America.”
A spate of similar rallies have popped up across the nation in response to anti-police rioting. Many count themselves among the growing “Back the Blue” movement, an ACT for America campaign to build community support for law enforcement officers, be they local, state, or military.
The first week of August saw hundreds attending another “Back the Blue” demonstration in Raleigh, North Carolina. On Aug. 16, thousands of bikers and truckers rallied through Wayne County, New York, in support of state law enforcement, Breitbart reported.
The New York rally included a convoy of 26 fire trucks and a number of prominent businesses who lent their names to the cause. “Everybody just came together and it’s incredible,” co-organizer Tracy Zornow told WROC. “I can’t believe the turnout we have here today.”
“It’s just kind of grown over the past month,” added fellow co-organizer, Roberta Irwin. “People from all over are tired of being quiet and they want an avenue to show they want to back the police officers.”
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