Back the Blue: Hundreds of bikers ride to honor law enforcement

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PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD)–Honoring law enforcement, a group of motorcyclists showed their respect for police officers.

Bikers from all over Illinois came out on Saturday morning to show their support for local law enforcement officers. Local retired officer Wally Waldbeesser said the event was a gathering of bikers from across central Illinois.

“We have people from outside of the Peoria area here,” Waldbeesser said.

The Back the Blue Ride and Rally was organized by local motorcycle club, Quiet Pride. Saturday was their first big group ride in over 100 days and wanted it to be special. Sergeant at Arms for Quiet Pride, Ron Hawotte said the group decided to show support for police officers.

“We decided to support a group that in our opinion has been beat down lately and that’s police officers,” Hawotte said.

Riders said thank you to those who serve and protect and remembered those who lost their lives in the line of duty.

“We’re not looking to be political or anything like that, we’re just looking to show these men and women like we’ve been showing other groups in the community, that we support them. And I think they know that,” Hawotte said.

The group of over 100 bikers adorned thin blue line American flags and stopped at five local police stations in the area; Peoria County Sheriff’s Office, Peoria Police Department, East Peoria Police Department, Washington Police Department and Illinois State Police District Eight Headquarters. A rally for those who keep Americans safe on the country’s birthday.

“It’s just absolutely overwhelming, not to mention amazing and honorable at the fact we have so many people that have our backs,” said Chris Gibbs.

Chris “Big Red” Gibbs, president of the Shot Gun Law Enforcement Motorcycle Club is a current corrections officer at the Federal Correctional Institute in Pekin. He said Saturday’s ride means a lot to the men and women working behind the scenes as well.

“Day in and day out as we speak right now they are serving justice and protecting our community and that’s what it’s all about,” Gibbs said.

All riders said they want people to realize all cops aren’t bad and the term ‘protect and serve’ is still true today.

After making their stops, the group held a free cookout at the Vietnam Veteran’s bunker in Sunnyland.

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