BLOOMINGTON, Ill. (WMBD) — Hundreds of community members in Bloomington showed up to General Electric Park to show support for law enforcement.
Due to recent events, police everywhere have been under fire as people are calling to defund police departments and questioning officers’ pledge to protect and serve. On Sunday, community members gathered in Bloomington to back the blue and showing them support they say cops don’t normally recieve.
Over hundreds of pro-police supporters came out to General Electric Park Sunday afternoon for the Central Illinois Back the Blue Rally. Event organizer Karin Miller said there isn’t a better time to shown support.
“The climate we’re in right now they need the support and that’s what we’re doing out here,” Miller said.
Event organizers say the rally was not meant to be divisive but rather show support for a group that has not gotten as much lately. Miller said this event was to appreciate law enforcement for the work they do around the clock.
“We’re just here to offer them encouragement and let them know that the majority supports them,” Miller said.
Just outside the privately owned park, protesters from Black Lives Matter greeting rally-goers as they were coming and going. Kristen Meierkord said she was invited by friends to come stand in solidarity.
“I am not anti-police, but I am out here for Black Lives Matter,” Meierkord said. “There are a lot of good cops out there, but if they don’t report the bad ones, it doesn’t make them good.”
Meierkord said the group just wanted to protest peacefully but they were met with some backlash from attendees.
“I know I am not the only one that’s been spit on today (Sunday),” Meierkord said. “I think it’s sad and disgusting and shows what kind of people they are.”
While those alleged incidents took place outside the park’s property, event organizer Wendy Carlton said their intention wasn’t to diminish others’ right to free speech.
“It has nothing to do with race or Black Lives Matter. It’s strictly to tell our officers thank you,” Carlton said.
Carlton who helped run the event says the goal was to show support for the local departments as she says they have good track records..
“People are right, this is a chosen profession, but who will you call when you have someone break into your home or need help,” Carlton said.
State Representative Darren Bailey attended Sunday’s event and told the crowd he has always supported law enforcement. He said he can’t believe he would live in a time when people would call to defund police and was impressed with the community’s support of police.
“This is how you rally and protest then you take it to the voting box,” Bailey said.
All proceeds from the Back the Blue Rally are being donated to the Boys and Girls Club Bloomington-Normal and the Children’s Advocacy Group.
This group hopes to hold similar events in the future.