Bonner County Each day Bee – Bonner County Each day Bee
SANDPOINT – Red, white, and blue flags, bandanas, and street signs adorned both ends of the sidewalks of North First Avenue on Saturday afternoon.
Over 200 people stood in the blazing heat to assist Bonner County's law enforcement in the “Back The Bonner Blue” rally.
"I think it's fantastic that a group came out to help law enforcement," said Bonner County's sheriff, Daryl Wheeler, who was one of the many law enforcement officers who attended the event. "We have a large group of supporters and a group of law enforcement agencies here in the county, so I'm not surprised."
Cars and bikes raced through the parishioners' bridge on either side of North First Avenue. Most people honked or waved back to show solidarity.
Organizer Jim Kelly was thrilled with the turnout. Kelly's 32 years of experience as a California policeman and three years of serving as a Marine in Bonner County have inspired him to post a tip on the Sandpoint Local Forum's Facebook page.
"It's more than I hoped for," said Kelly. "I thought maybe 50 people or something. I got here at 11:15 a.m. and saw a couple of cars pass by. "
And at a quarter to twelve, Kelly said the lot was full. People got out of their cars with self-made signs, flags and shirts.
“Everyone has a very good time. It is very optimistic. I love it when the patrol cars get through, ”said Kelly.
In recent weeks, rallies and protests against police brutality and racial prejudice have taken place across the country. Kelly realized that the event should not create a political split, but "like a high school rally" to show support for the Bonner County community.
"This is not about whose life is important," said Kelly. "I call it a rally, it's not a protest. This is only to improve the morale of our law enforcement officers and dispatchers here in Bonner County so they know they won't be hated when they see the newspaper tomorrow."
Kelly said he was a patrol officer in 1991 when Rodney Glen King was beaten to death by Los Angeles Police Department officers. Kelly remembers that she went to a sandwich shop to eat when a worker assumed he was a violent and unlawful official.
"She looks at me from top to bottom and says," Oh, how many people did you hit with your truncheon tonight? "I didn't know her and she didn't know me and I was a customer. We were constantly showered with comments and insults. It's a terrible feeling."
Among the participants was Kandy Brumley, a seven-year-old resident of Bonner County, who said she was grateful for the support from law enforcement agencies.
"I think that's an important thing we're doing today," said Brumley. "I hope people don't do it politically. As I told my husband, don't bring your political sign with you as this is for the police. I don't want the police to be a political thing like they are in the nation happens. "
Another, Barbara Werner, thanked the law enforcement agencies for partnering with their profession – social work.
"If I had to go to some neighbors without the police, people would suffer," said Werner. "When it was dangerous, a policeman accompanied me and that made it safer for me to do my job."
Wheeler said he had seen no impact from the Bonner County community. Despite polarized talks about law enforcement agencies in the United States, Wheeler does not expect many negative comments from the Idaho state police.
"I don't think it will hit Idaho," said Wheeler. “I think we appreciate the rule of law and the quality of life that we have. I don't think we'll ever get to the point that happens in other parts of the country. "
Along with the rally, the Bonner County Chaplain Corps, in collaboration with Boundary County, designed Idaho Backs The Blue t-shirts to raise funds for local law enforcement agencies. T-shirts can be purchased on the Bonner County Chaplain Corps Facebook page.