A group of pro-law enforcement locals hold rally in Goleta
“Police Lives Matter,” “fund the police,” and honking horns.
Those were the sounds that were resonating loud and proud at both corners of Storke Road and Hollister Avenue in Goleta Saturday morning, as more than two dozen people gathered to support local police and law enforcement in a “Back the Blue” rally.
“Everyone just wants to support the cops, I think Santa Barbara has done a great job keeping us safe. It’s safe because of our police and safe because of our community, so I want to keep it that way,” Justin Shores, one of the event’s organizers, told the News-Press.
Mr. Shores, 38, said the idea to hold a rally came about earlier in the week, when an article on lawenforcementtoday.com was published calling for nationwide rallies on Saturday to support the police.
After reading the article, he shared it with his friends and began organizing the event.
Originally, Mr. Shores said the plan was to hold it near City Hall, but “most people wanted to come here to show a little bit of visual support.”
The rally certainly received a lot of support, with passersby honking their horns, motorcyclists revving their engines and others showcasing their flags as they drove by.
Mr. Shores was holding an American flag as he chanted while others in the crowd held up signs with phrases such as “Defend don’t defund,” or “Back the badge” and other sentiments.
“I mean, it’s one of the hardest jobs in the world right now. There is no quitting, they’re not getting supported by the people that they’re protecting and we can’t turn our backs on the people that have been helping us for years to protect us so it’s more important than ever to support them,” Mr. Shores said.
He added that his father was a police officer while his stepdad was a security guard.
“Everyone has some connection to somebody that’s served, so that’s another thing where they are people just like us. They’re our family members, our friends, our co-workers and they need to be supported,” Mr. Shores said.
Greg and Miki Hammel were also there to show their support for the police. The couple both said that the actions of a few “bad” cops should not mean that all cops are bad.
“They’re making all the cops pay and we believe that most of the cops are good law-abiding people who want to do their job, and we support them. Without them, we would have anarchy, which we are seeing (in some places),” Mr. Hammel said.
Ms. Hammel said that, overall, defunding the police would be more detrimental and that there are other ways to try to help solve the problem.
“We need to look at the training of officers and maybe give them a background in psychology or give them perhaps a social worker to work with them and advise them, but to defund them it’s just so rude and so ignorant,” Ms. Hammel said.
Both Hammels also agreed that the problem, more than the police, is the police unions, which in turn protect the “bad” cops.
“I don’t think that the police unions have served our nation because they pretend, they cover up,” Ms. Hammel said.
“They don’t want to fire cops that shouldn’t be cops anymore or maybe need to be retrained or helped in some way in their own personal way.”
“Unions are incestious, they move them (cops) around like the Catholic church moves priests,” Mr. Hammel added.
Grace Wallace was also adamant in her support for law enforcement.
“I am African American and I do support my local police. We need our police officers. We need to pray for them, we need to support them, otherwise we have lawlessness so we can’t throw the baby out with the bathwater,” Ms. Wallace said.
“We can’t judge all of them for the bad that a few of them do.”
Ms. Wallace held a sign that said to support the police but no more police brutality.
“We have to look at other ways to disarm an opponent, someone that’s coming against the police and other ways of policing that do not include shooting people dead,” Ms. Wallace said.
“The aggressiveness of a police force has to change. This is something that we’ve been dealing with for many many years. Yes, the African American people suffer more with it, yes, it’s true, however, police brutality is so bad in our country that it’s spread over evenly to the white race at this point now.”
She added that defunding the police would not solve the problem because it would just force people to have to try to take care of themselves.
“How would you like to call the police and they can’t come and help you? And now we have to arm ourselves as citizens and do what the police officers usually do? That’s crazy, so I don’t think defunding would work at all,” Ms. Wallace said.
Rigoberto Jimenez added that the problem with the world right now is the division.
“Unfortunately, people have been trying to divide the nation. We need to unite, we need to do the opposite,” Mr. Jimenez said.
“A house divided won’t stand. We need the nation to be united. We need every single person, more than a person and a color, every single soul to be united by the truth, and that’s why I’m here. Because there is only one God and he loves us all the same.”
Mr. Jimenez, who immigrated to the United States from Mexico in 1997, added that he is thankful to be here and that is why he wanted to support the police.
“I really am so thankful for being in this country. This country is made for so many immigrants. This country is a country of freedom in that it will give you the opportunity and freedom,” Mr. Jimenez said.
The rally also faced some opposition, with some shouting chants against the rally as they walked by. Overall, the rally received an overwhelming majority of support.
At around 3 p.m., people gathered back at the corner of Stroke Road and Calle Real, this time holding signs that were anti-police and against Immigration Customs Enforcement.