Local demonstrators gathered Saturday on Mission Drive in Solvang to show support for law enforcement.
The rally had a different tone than many protests that have called for defunding police departments across the nation in the wake of George Floyd’s murder at the hands of a police officer in Minneapolis.
According to KEYT-TV, the event was co-organized by Bill Giorgi and Peggy Kono, who had rally goers dressed in red, white, and blue waving American flags and repeating the slogan “All Lives Matter.” Referring to local law enforcement as “members of our community” and “our friends,” Mr. Giorgi expressed that police are a necessity.
“We want to show them that we support them and need them,” he told KEYT.
Reportedly, a few Black Lives Matter protesters held a counter demonstration across the street to oppose the rally.
In an interview with the News-Press, Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Jeff Greene, who commands the department’s Solvang station, spoke highly of the rally supporting law enforcement. Though he didn’t witness it personally, he said his troopers greatly enjoyed seeing support for law enforcement at this difficult time for the profession as a whole.
“It put some smiles on their faces when they got some thumbs up and cheers,” he said.
He added, “We’re very proud of our community that they can come together and express their first amendment rights.”
On the subject of the intense scrutiny law enforcement officers have come under in recent days and the public calls for change in policing techniques, the lieutenant said that law enforcement work is “something that evolves through time.” He also noted the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office is being “proactive in evolving.” Achieving this, he said, can only come about through constant training.
“Ongoing training is essential in law enforcement,” Lt. Greene said.