With warm sunshine and a cool breeze, many attendees remarked that it was a good day for the Back the Blue rally at Rome City Hall on Monday afternoon.
Organizer Tabitha Chapman came up with the idea after realizing many law enforcement and public safety officers, including her husband, weren’t getting the recognition they deserve.
She felt that a lot of people weren’t being vocal about their support for officers.
“At a time when officers are being attacked and ridiculed, they need to know they’re not alone,” Chapman said.
Before the rally, Chapman delivered chicken fajitas to working officers at the Rome Police Department, Floyd County Police Department, Floyd County Sheriff’s Office and Floyd County Prison. Chapman cooked the fajitas herself and had them ready to go by 2 p.m.
The rally began around 4 p.m. with people holding signs outside Rome City Hall reading “Blue lives matter,” “Back the blue,” “God bless public safety officers” and “All lives matter.”
A small counter protest took place across the street at the same time, where two women held up signs with contradictory statements.
William Wagner, a former firefighter, talked about how he has many family members in law enforcement and public safety. He said he hadn’t seen a demonstration like this so far and was happy to come out to support the event.
“This is all about supporting public safety officers and first responders,” he said.
Other attendees included Rome Police Chief Denise Downer-McKinney, Rome Assistant Police Chief Debbie Burnett and Rome City Commissioner Bonny Askew.
Chapman set up pictures in front of the Capitoline Wolf statue of 15 law enforcement officers across the nation who have died in the line of duty since May 26.
The rally concluded with a silent march from City Hall to the Call to Duty memorial in front of the Law Enforcement Center. The march honored the fallen and current law enforcement officers and first responders.