Individuals came out in support of police during the Back the Blue rally
By Jana Mackin
Hundreds of Harleys, trucks and cars paraded yesterday afternoon in a mile-long love letter to the boys in blue.
Supporters from throughout the area showed up for the Back the Blue Morgantown vehicle parade/rally to support police. The noon parade, staged at Mountaineer Mall, was full of American and Thin Blue Line flags, the throaty growl of motorcycles and supporters honking and waving to show their appreciation for law enforcement.
“I’m ecstatic to see the support of the police officers,” said Frank Saluccci, riding his bike. “It’s amazing. Everybody is smiling.”
The Blue and Red Knights police motorcyclists led the bikers, followed by other vehicles in a more than hour long parade through downtown. The spectacle of support drove through various neighborhoods: White Park (which was hosting the Leo Mountaineer Classic 3rd Annual Eric Williams Memorial Softball tournament), past the police department and downtown to end with a rally at Triple S Harley-Davidson.
While there were many American and Thin Blue Line flags, only a handful of vehicles flew Trump signs. When the parade passed by the tournament, the players waved and doffed their caps.
“We wanted this to be positive,” said Jessica Legg, who, with Sarabeth Holder, both locals, organized this event from their Facebook group. The local group is not part of any national organization. “We wanted to do something locally to support the police. We did this because the direction of the country right now. We wanted to show support of the police and honor them.”
As the cavalcade made its way through Morgantown, people waved and honked, showing their support. Young kids in yards waved with their parents.
“We only had two people give us a negative — one thumbs down and another said, ‘[Expletive] Trump,’ ” Buggy Funk, 21, said. He and his family paraded in Jeeps. “I have always supported the police and Trump. The police have seen hard times. I know they have my back, and I’ve got their back.”
Several people came from the Fairmont area to support law enforcement as well as criticize national and local efforts to politicize or defund the police. They said they are tired of the riots and demonstrations happening in the country and feel it is threatening the American way of life.
“How much lack of common sense and intelligence does someone have to say, ‘Defund the police,’ ” said Steve Opas, 68. “We have to have the police department or we can’t keep safe.”
His buddy, Bruce White, agreed.
“The police are so important. I’ve never been a part of any demonstrations. I’m a native of Portland, Ore. It seems like Morgantown is using Portland’s playbook.”
After the parade, the rally featured a number of speakers, including Pastor David Coe; two retired police officers, Steve Ford and Kevin Clark; and Sen. Randy Smith (R-Tucker); House of Delegates District 51 candidates Joe Statler, Justin White and Todd Stainbrook also spoke, along with Cindy Frich. They promoted respect and support of law enforcement and their families and stressed their message: The police are the thin blue line between law and order, and chaos. The mayor and present council did not attend, said event officials.
“Police work is often a thankless job. The officers are out there every day for us,” said Ford, 52, a retired Morgantown police officer. “They are human beings just like everybody else.”
White said he is close with several people in law enforcement.
“I have family members and friends who are in law enforcement. They’re good people.” he said. “Our law enforcement officers are absolutely part of our community. They are our family , our friends, our neighbors and they deserve our support. ”