Hundreds of people turned out Saturday, June 27, for the Back The Blue rally in Nocatee to show their support for law enforcement officers.
They lined Crosswater Parkway in front of the Nocatee Welcome Center, waving American flags and Thin Blue Line flags and holding up signs.
“I truly believe in law enforcement,” said Greg Kellar, one of the event organizers. “Seeing what’s going on in some of the other cities, like Minneapolis and New York, I couldn’t imagine this world without law enforcement.”
Kellar posted the event on NextDoor and about 25 Facebook sites in hopes of attracting like-minded participants.
Many said they decided to take part after hearing about calls for defunding police departments in various places across the nation. Kellar called the defunding idea “ludicrous.”
“The last thing I want to do is have a social worker come out here and try to talk down some guy with a gun in my house,” he said.
Many of the demonstrators came to Nocatee from other areas, such as Palencia, St. Augustine and the beach communities.
Cameron Coward of Ponte Vedra Beach waved a large Thin Blue Line flag from his position along the route.
“I came out here to support our men and women that support us and keep us safe,” he said. “So, they know that they’re wanted, and they’re loved and we’ve got their backs.”
“A lot of these people who serve and protect us and put their lives on the line every day are catching a lot of flak throughout the country,” said Kellar. “I think the silent majority, though, truly supports law enforcement and wants them involved in the communities.”
The rally was not political, noted Kellar.
“When an officer responds to your house and engages the bad guy, he doesn’t ask if you’re a Democrat or Republican,” he said.
The demonstration was peaceful and drew a lot of honks from passing cars. At one point, law enforcement officers showed their appreciation by slowly driving a line of sheriff’s vehicles by the participants with lights flashing and sirens sounding.