More than 100 people attend ‘Back the Blue’ rally and march in Thousand
Mike Harris Ventura County Star
Published 4:30 p.m. PT Aug. 29, 2020 Updated 8:15 p.m. PT Aug. 30, 2020
More than 100 people demonstrated in support of law enforcement at a “Back the Blue” rally and march in Thousand Oaks on Saturday.
“We’re here to protest the villainization of our courageous men and women in blue and the effort across the nation to defund their departments,” Gina Libby, one of the organizers of the event at Oakbrook Neighborhood Park, told the crowd.
“We’re demonstrating our gratitude and support for law enforcement,” she said.
In the wake of the death of George Floyd, a Black man, while in custody of Minneapolis police in May, Black Lives Matter and other activist groups have pushed to defund police departments across the nation.
None of Ventura County’s police agencies, however, including the Thousand Oaks Police Department, have had any such funding reductions.
Attendees at Saturday’s rally held “Blue Lives Matter” and “Back the Blue” signs, waved American flags and displayed “Trump 2020” banners as they listened to speakers. “God Bless America” played in the background at one point.
Many cars honked their horns in support of the demonstrators. Most attendees didn’t wear masks.
Matthew Wiers, 59, came to the rally from Simi Valley.
“I want to support the police,” he said, holding a sign that read “Honk Support for Law Enforcement.”
“Defunding the police is a ludicrous idea,” said Wiers, a statistics lecturer. “There’s a lot of crime out there and the police are the ones who protect us from that crime
and keep us safe. How can you be against that?”
Nancy Van Dolkinburg, 59, of Thousand Oaks, also thinks cuts to police budgets isn’t the right approach.
“I’m not in favor of defunding them,” said Van Dolkinburg, who works part time in real estate. “If anything, I think they need more money.”
“I believe there are bad apples in every profession,” she added. “So yes, we do need to do something about reform. But defunding the police is not the solution.”
A number of candidates for office in November’s election also addressed the crowd, including Kevin McNamee, who is running for the Thousand Oaks City Council, and Conejo Valley Unified School District Trustee Sandee Everett, who is running for re-election.
The demonstrators later marched a short distance from the park to the corner of Erbes Road and Avenida de Los Arboles, where they waved pro-law enforcement signs and American flags at passing cars.
“Honk support for law enforcement,” Libby yelled.
Many cars did.
Mike Harris covers the East County cities of Simi Valley and Thousand Oaks, as well as
transportation countywide. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 805-437-0323.
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