RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Hundreds of people attended a Defend the Police rally in downtown Raleigh on Saturday.
The crowd gathered at Halifax Mall, many of them holding “thin blue line” flags and Blue Lives Matter signs to show their support for local law enforcement.
“I don’t believe in demonizing the police and saying all police officers are bad,” said AJ Karathanasis, who attended the rally.
The group Students for Trump organized the rally in response to recent anti-police protests.
The mission was to raise morale and uplift law enforcement. Wearing a mask was recommended, but was not required.
“Now is the time more than ever to rally behind these men and women in blue who are heroes who protect our community and serve us each and every day not knowing if they’re gonna make it home,” said Ryan Fournier, co-chair and founder of Students for Trump.
Fournier said there should be police reform and that what happened to George Floyd was wrong.
He explained, “Not every cop is bad. There are bad apples in every field and when that happens, you call them out and hold them accountable. But for the most part, to defund the entire organization or say that they’re pigs because of the actions of one, really doesn’t work for me. So we’re out here to support them.”
Black Lives Matter supporters also showed up carrying with them signs and flags. They also shouted the names of people who have been killed by police, including Breonna Taylor, whose death has sparked protests across the country.
Black Lives Matter protesters followed the crowd, counter-protesting as they marched from Halifax Mall to the State Capitol building and back.
“I’m flattered that they take their time to show up everywhere we are,” Karathanasis said.
She added, “That’s the American way; we get to protest, they get to counter-protest. As long as they don’t start getting physical and destructive, then it’s just something we have to deal with. I have no problem with them showing up, none whatsoever. And I should hope they don’t have a problem with us showing up to show our support for the police officers.”
The rally and march ended peacefully.
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