On Saturday, June 20, community members came together in support of local law enforcement on the corner of El Camino Real and Highway 41.
Waiving blue ribbons, balloons, and large decorated posters filled with “Thank you, We Love You! and Blessed are the Peacemakers! Our APD!” the crowd cheered on their support for several hours.
Among the ribbons, several people held flags of both red white and blue, along with the black and white “thin blue line” flag that is held in honor of law enforcement and is flown to show support for the men and women who put their lives on the line every day.
The organizers of the event were two local women Amanda Hawkins and Valoree Fredendall, “We formed the event to show our local law enforcement that the community supports and appreciates them.” Hawkins shared, “Law enforcement is crucial in the orchestration of maintaining balance in society. Especially in these times, they need to feel encouragement and reverence from the public.”
According to Hawkins, the group “Protect Atascadero” was formed recently as a way to show support to local law enforcement and help keep Atascadero safe and beautiful. The other members of the group share in the same sentiment, so Hawkins and Fredendall planned the “Back the Blue” event to start forward progress on the first of many events to come.
“We are putting together 31 baskets full of goodies to present to our Atascadero law enforcement,” Hawkins said. “We are arranging for locals to deliver meals and goodies to the police station, and we are working in conjunction with the police department on graffiti removal around town.”
Hawkins explained that the group intends to show support and community unity “We fully respect every American’s First Amendment Right to assemble peaceably, and we support equality for all people.” However, she does feel strongly against the support for “Defunding the Police.”
“Defunding the police would not result in a decrease in crime and is not of benefit to society. The movement to defund the police seems like a proposed punishment to law enforcement as a whole, for one person’s horrendous actions. Punishing and discriminating against an entire group of people for the behavior of one is not making progress in society.”
When asked what would make progress, and if the possibility became available to meet with the organizers of the “Black Live Matter Protest” that took place at the beginning of June to open lines of communication and unity, Hawkins answered, “Communication and compromise are always possible when people come together with open minds and hearts of love.”
She continued, “As a community, we need to listen to one another’s grievances, acknowledge the feelings behind other points of view, forgive one another, and move on in harmony.”
To find out how you can get involved, you can join the Facebook Group, “Protect Atascadero.”