Those who support law enforcement marched from Hurkamp Park in Downtown Fredericksburg to the city’s police headquarters.
More than 1,000 people lined the streets Sunday, many holding signs and U.S. flags, shouting “back the blue.” The marchers were given a motorcycle escort by over 100 bikers who rode along with the marchers on their way across town.
Many of them were carrying a sidearm. The leader of the group, “Mad” Mike Wade, told marchers not to walk too closely to the bikes, and if they heard gunfire during the march to get down on the ground and to allow the bikers to use their firearms to protect them.
The march began at 3 o’clock in the afternoon with the singing of the National Anthem, and then marchers traveled from the park to Caroline Street, meandering their way through Downtown until they reached Cowan Boulevard and the city’s police department.
Marchers made the two-mile trek as summertime temperatures soared to 90 degrees. The event follows days of Black Lives Matter protests that have sparked outcries for both police reform following the death of Minneapolis resident George Floyd who died during an arrest attempt by a former police officer, to outrage from residents stuck in their cars as protesters blocked city intersections.
In June, police in the city twice used tear gas on protestors, and the Stafford sheriff’s office used tear gas on the Falmouth Bridge, where a protestor smashed the window of a car that was trying to traverse the bridge, a video posted to Instagram showed.
Fox News Channel host Tucker Carlson on June 25 played an audiotape of a 911 recording of a woman who called for help as she and her child were stuck inside of her car, unable to drive through an intersection due to the presence of Black Lives Matter protesters.
That audio and an apology to the Black Lives Matter protesters by Mayor Katherine Greenlaw, drew the ire of many of the “We Back Blue” protesters on Sunday.
“I never thought I would hear the words “teargas’ and Fredericksburg in the same sentence,” Greenlaw said at a June 23 city council meeting.
The mayor promised a full investigation and a final report to residents in the actions of police that deployed teargas on protesters on the night of May 31, and once again during the first week of June.
“You’re making the wrong decision, mayor,” one man shouted on Sunday afternoon as Greenlaw stood in front of city police headquarters to greet the “We Back Blue” marchers.
“Back the blue and support law enforcement,” chanted another.
Greenlaw will begin her third term as mayor on Wednesday, July 1 after winning a May 19 election. She told Potomac Local News the Black Lives Matter protests thrust the city of 25,000 residents into the spotlight like never before.
“This is an important discussion that’s taking place in America today Some see it as the next step in the civil rights movement,” said Greenlaw. “We’ve had to work to escalate and, at the same time, protect our citizens’ right’s to free speech.
Greenlaw praised both the city police and sheriff’s departments on Sunday. Meanwhile, the city council this past week approved a plan where elected leaders will spend the rest of the year analyzing the response to protests, as well as coming up with plans for criminal justice reform, as well as plans to address racial inequality.
“We are working together because this is a city that does work together,” Greenlaw added.
Before the “Back the Blue” rally began in Fredericksburg, Potomac Local News learned multiple counter-protests that had been planned by area Black Lives Matter organizers for Sunday had been canceled.