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Republican delegates host Back the Blue rally in Annapolis to support law enforcement

Around a hundred people waving American flags and holding signs with pro-police slogans gathered for a rally outside the House of Delegates building in Annapolis on Thursday to support law enforcement.

Six Republican Maryland delegates organized the Back The Blue rally to show support for men and women in uniform.

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Del. Haven Shoemaker, R-Carroll County, one of the organizers, assured police officers that a silent majority, those who support law enforcement but do not speak out, are behind them. He later made reference to an episode of the sitcom Seinfeld called “The Bizarro Jerry,” in which everything is the opposite.

Del. Haven Shoemaker, from Carroll County, gives remarks. A Back The Blue Rally in support of law enforcement was held on the side steps of the Maryland House of Delegates office building in Annapolis Thursday.
Del. Haven Shoemaker, from Carroll County, gives remarks. A Back The Blue Rally in support of law enforcement was held on the side steps of the Maryland House of Delegates office building in Annapolis Thursday. (Paul W. Gillespie/Capital Gazette)

“Right now, up is down, right is wrong, wrong is right, the criminals are the victims, the victims are the criminals and the police are bad,” he said. “At least that’s the narrative of a small but very vocal minority.”

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After Shoemaker, Carroll County Sheriff Jim DeWees said the residents of his county love and support the police and have “a high expectation for police officers with integrity and character.”

Former and current law enforcement officers attended the rally, including Pat Bassler, a 30-year retired police veteran from Carroll County.

“These are my friends. These are the people I have always worked with. I love them to death,” Bassler said. “I don’t feel like they aren’t being treated completely right.”

Carroll County Sheriff Jim DeWees, left, leads a salute to retiring Anne Arundel County Police Chief Timothy Altomare. A Back The Blue Rally in support of law enforcement was held on the side steps of the Maryland House of Delegates office building in Annapolis Thursday.
Carroll County Sheriff Jim DeWees, left, leads a salute to retiring Anne Arundel County Police Chief Timothy Altomare. A Back The Blue Rally in support of law enforcement was held on the side steps of the Maryland House of Delegates office building in Annapolis Thursday. (Paul W. Gillespie/Capital Gazette)

Del. April Rose, R-Carroll County, was also listed as an organizer of the event in a Tuesday news release.

Similar pro-police rallies have bubbled up in other parts of the country in response to the Black Lives Matter protests. Those protests have grown months after a white Minneapolis police officer killed George Floyd, a Black man, by kneeling on his neck for nearly nine minutes. The movement has launched accusations of systemic racism in the institution of policing and calls for reforms.

Two other rally organizers, Del. Sid Saab, R-Crownsville, and Severna Park Republican Del. Brian Chisholm, said the event is separate from the Black Lives Matter movement.

“We need their support and they need ours,” Saab said of police. “The purpose of the rally is just to show the police community support.”

Tom Perrell, a former federal law enforcement officer and Laurel resident, held a Thin Blue Line flag at the back of the crowd.

“I’m here to back up my brothers and sisters that don’t have a voice to let them know there are people who support them,” he said.

A Back The Blue Rally in support of law enforcement was held on the side steps of the Maryland House of Delegates office building in Annapolis Thursday.
A Back The Blue Rally in support of law enforcement was held on the side steps of the Maryland House of Delegates office building in Annapolis Thursday. (Paul W. Gillespie/Capital Gazette)

Anne Arundel County Sheriff Jim Fredericks, who stood a few steps away, said it is nice to recognize law enforcement but that people in the profession never ask for it.

“Really whether one person or a thousand people show up, it’s just wonderful to have someone come out and say it,” Fredericks said.

Capital reporter Olivia Sanchez contributed to this story.

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