PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) – The message of supporting those in uniform was shouted across Peoria’s downtown area Saturday morning in a Back The Blue rally.

Police have been at the center of controversy throughout the country for years and it’s been highlighted even more so over the past few months with the Defund the Police movement.

Sheila Trout, a Peoria resident and an army veteran, said she’s been feeling helpless after seeing the hatred police have been enduring.

“I feel they’re being vilified and attacked and we can’t do anything about it,” Trout said.

She said she’s been heartbroken the past few months at the way officers across the country have been smeared and blamed for the actions of a few bad cops. Trout said watching the violent protests against police made her not recognize the country she once served.

“The majority, 90.999% are good guys,” Trout said. “They’re honorable guys. they’re dedicated, they’re self-serving.”

Trout said this prompted her to organize a march to show officers they’re still valued.

The rally, Saturday, started at Liberty Park, leading to the Peoria Police Department, and ending at city hall. Community members cheered at passing officers, waved American flags, listened to keynote speakers, and raised pro-police signs.

Sean Garrett attended the rally saying he believes police deserve to be appreciated for always putting their lives on the line to protect the community.

“I just wanted to come show my support for our great police in this community,” Garrett said. “I think they’re doing a great job. they’re really dedicated to protecting us and making sure we have law and order.”

Amanda Moore said police as a whole have been unfairly portrayed.

“They have been represented horribly and I’m happy that we’re going to go ahead and do a rally for them because they deserve a little bit better than what we’ve seen,” Moore said.

Trout said she can also see come people’s argument who believe police reform needs to happen.

“Some police have no business being an officer and representing our cities,” Trout said. “But the vast majority of that’s not true.”

She said she hopes people can take time to think and have conversations with officers before rushing to violence. Trout also said she hopes the community can take a break from social media, look at the world around them and see a few bad apples shouldn’t always spoil the bunch.

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