PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — Back the Blue is a social movement to support law enforcement and has been picking up steam over the past few months.
The movement returned to Peoria Sunday afternoon as dozens of supporters came out to the Northpoint Shopping Center area, many wearing “Make America Great Again” caps, expressing their appreciation for police.
“They do their jobs on behalf of the whole community,” John Kelly, Peoria city councilman, said.
Those in attendance swayed hands while listening to patriotic music, such as “God Bless The U.S.A,” twirled pro-police and American flags, and participated in prayer for the men and women in blue.
Jaye DeBates, one of the coordinators, said he started a group called Bluez Cruzz where participants drive around to different communities and wave flags to show support for police departments.
“We like to show the police that the people really, the normal citizens in this community supports them,” DeBates said.
DeBates said the treatment he’s recently seen towards the police, both locally and nationally, is what he calls unacceptable.
“Our police department has been terribly abused in the last few months,” DeBates said. “They’ve endured being spit on, rocks thrown at them, bricks, water bottles, you name it. They can’t respond the same way the protesters do or the mean protesters.”
He said these events led to Sunday’s peaceful protest, which he said was also shared with the Peoria County Republican Women.
The event at times deviated from a pro-police demonstration to a rally in support of President Donald Trump with many purchasing Trump merchandise and shouting “Trump 2020,” and “four more years of Trump.”
Kathy Crawford Chittick came out in support of those committed to protecting and serving the community.
She said she believes police don’t deserve the bad reputation they’ve been given. She said she’s encouraging people to develop a bond with officers to understand them better.
“If you can find out more if you can spend time with an officer, even if you can’t ride with them,” Chittick said. “If there’s an officer that lives in your neighborhood or somehow get to know an officer because it really will give you a different perspective and perspective is key.”
She said bad officers do exist but believes all law enforcement shouldn’t be blamed for the bad actions of a few.
The rally wrapped up with more than 20 vehicles driving throughout the community, honking horns and waving flags to show officers appreciation.
DeBates said in addition to supporting the police, he’s encouraging everyone to go out and vote in the November election and let their voices be heard.
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