Parkersburg, West Virginia, and Chico, California, participated in “Back the Blue” rallies on Saturday.
“I’ve always said as a member of council, we have the finest law enforcement officers right here in the country right here in this area, bar none,” Parkersburg City Councilman Bob Mercer said on Saturday. “We just want them to know, we appreciate who they are, what they do for us every day. They don’t have to be out here every day doing this, but this is what they do and who they are. And we appreciate them.”
Parkersburg Police Chief Joseph Martin spoke as well, thanking the community for their support and ensuring them that they have resources in place to deal with law enforcement abuses highlighted by the death of George Floyd:
We are lightyears ahead of most police departments in our country. It’s really hard to believe for the most part, but we’re very fortunate that. We do have those policies in place that gives us those tools and mechanisms to eliminate officers, for example, if we had an officer that mimicked what happened in Minneapolis. We would have policies and procedures in place to eliminate that officer. But do it lawfully and within the statutes of West Virginia state law.
“It means everything to us,” Vienna Police Chief Mike Pifer said of the community response. “This is why we do the job. It’s just fantastic the amount of people who have come out in this weather support us today. The feeling is fantastic.”
A similar rally took place at the same time, across the country in Chico, California. Renamed “Bridge the Blue” because the organizers thought the word “back” sent an unclear message. According to rally organizer Nichole Nava:
Back the Blue may make it feels like it’s us against them. That’s not why they threw that up. It’s just support, is what “back” meant, so they realized that might be harmful to some folks to hear that — so they twisted the message just a bit to “Bridge the Blue”– meaning we can all be together we can all be heard we can all make this a wonderful community together,
The Chico community showed up in force for their police officers, but did not ignore the national conversation on police violence and accountability.
“What happened to George Floyd is horrible. It should never happen to anyone, but I just want them to know that people in our community that are so thankful that they are there,” Chico community member Wendy Wells told local NBC affiliate Channel 13. “I feel right now that people across the country are not getting the support they’re being vilified.”
Americans across the country have been showing up in support of their local law enforcement, in response to the mass civil unrest. “I am thankful that we’re out here supporting it and it is nationwide because, like I said, the men and women that stand between us and chaos need to know that they’re supported,” Wells said.