LaBelle - Around 75 people came together to hold a “Back the Blue” rally at the Hendry County Courthouse on the morning of Saturday, July 25. Wearing shirts with a thin blue line, a symbol of support for law enforcement, and holding hand made signs, the group cheered in support of police officers. Sheriff Steve Whidden was seen waving an American flag, as traffic passed by. Many drivers honked their horns as a show of support for those lined up along the sidewalk.
“I’m here because I want law enforcement officers to know that I not only respect them for what they do, I appreciate all their hard work and sacrifices,” said John Holden, one of the participants.
Social distancing and masks were suggested for those who want to participate in the event, but not enforced. The choose to wear a mask was left up to each individual.
“We came to show that we are for police, and against police brutality,” said Lynnette Banyan, pulling down her mask to speak. “We were also at the Peaceful March for Justice. The two movements are not mutually exclusive, in fact, what we hope for is communication, respect, and unity on all sides. It’s time for equal justice and equal respect.”
“My father was in law enforcement, and my two sons are as well, so it’s important to me to come out here to show solidarity,” said Robert Smyth. “I think what happened to George Floyd was terrible, despicable. But, I also know the recent wave of protests have made things very dangerous for even the good guys.”
The event was held without incident, and the organizers expressed their hope for more people to come out for future events.
For more information about future plans for more “Back the Blue” events with the goal of bringing mutual respect and communication back to the community, contact local organizer Roger Alexander at 863-673-5747.