Salem residents and law enforcement came together last Saturday for a ‘Back the Blue’ event. The purpose of the gathering was to honor individuals who protect and serve the community each day.
Planning for the function began after Salem resident Brenda Rhodenizer Hunt attended a similar rally in Roanoke last month and contacted Hunter Holliday, President of Veteran Events Management, Inc. Hunter then reached out to Commander Richard Small about having a ‘Back the Blue’ event at the American Legion Post No. 3.
Rain likely turned some participants away but the roughly 80 individuals provided a festive and respectful march on Main Street. Attendees were asked to meet in the parking lot of the Salem General District County building at 10:30 a.m. When the pro-police rally participants shouted “Back the blue,” a small group of protestors responded with “Black lives matter.”
“Around half a dozen people from the Progressive Anti-Racist Action (PARA) group infiltrated our march, but was never really an issue,” Holliday said. “I would venture to say that no one present was a racist or a fascist as PARA leader Dave Tate called out when a member of our group asked him to remove his mask.”
After the march, supporters gathered at the Post where Congressman Morgan Griffith, State Senator Amanda Chase and Roanoke County Board of Supervisors Chairman David Radford gave remarks. Chase, who is vying for the GOP nomination to run for governor next year, adamantly disagrees with those who want to defund law enforcement, a sentiment shared by many in the room. Musical acts Barry Young and Mason Creek graced the stage later in the day.
Holliday has a unique perspective when it comes to law enforcement. As a former military officer with 36 years of service, he says he understands all too well that not everyone who wears a uniform is a good person.
“There is always that one percent who can make everyone in the organization look bad,” he said. “I have always supported less government involvement in our daily lives, but have been a big proponent that one of the main functions of government is to provide for the safety and security of its citizens. The police, along with our military, provide that front line defense that protects all of us.”
Added Post PR Director Gary Ziglar, “Law enforcement keeps the peace and law and order in our community. Without them, you have chaos, riots, killing and vandalism. They are not perfect, but we need them. The legal system takes care of those who cross the line. It is not our responsibility, as the public, to be judge and jury.”
Parked outside the American Legion and at the march was a Virginians for Trump Bus decorated as a rolling campaign banner.