RIDGEFIELD – A rally in support of local law enforcement drew about 100 people to downtown Ridgefield on Saturday.
Families and Ridgefield police officers gathered for a morning of prayer and reflection, followed by a short march through downtown.
Ridgefield resident Derek Sommers organized the rally after attending a similar event in downtown Vancouver several weeks ago.
“I just wanted to do something to support local law enforcement,” he said. “I think there’s been a lot of hate spread toward police departments.”
Several at the rally carried “Thin Blue Line” flags, the stylized American flag meant to pay tribute to law enforcement. The image has also been criticized for its overlap with the Blue Lives Matter movement, intended as a counter to the Black Lives Matter movement.
Sommers said he was frustrated by what he’s seen in Portland, where protests have unfolded since the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody in late May. The death of Floyd and other Black men and women at the hands of police has prompted growing calls to defund and divest from law enforcement and invest, instead, in social services.
Portland has become a flash point for the Black Lives Matter movement, capturing national attention as federal officers spent weeks pushing back against protesters with tear gas and less-than-lethal munitions.
Sommers said he was angered by the graffiti some have spray-painted on Portland’s federal courthouse calling for violence against law enforcement officers.
“I needed to do something,” he said.
Amanda Roberts and her seven children were among the crowd, several of them holding signs indicating their support for local police. Roberts said she feels the human side of local police is lost in the conversation.
“I think it’s really important to show our officers they’re appreciated,” said Roberts as she marched with the crowd.
As the rally wound down, police flashed the lights on their vehicles and took photos with members of the crowd. Ridgefield Police Chief John Brooks was moved by the event.
“Wow,” he said. “It is such a blessing to work in Ridgefield.”
Brooks added that broader conversations about racial discrimination in policing have given the department an opportunity to reflect on its own policies and training to ensure all people are treated fairly by law enforcement.
“We’re always looking at that stuff,” he said. “The officers continue to want to serve in their best way possible.”