‘We recognize the sacrifice they make’: Hundreds join ‘Back the Blue’ procession

ST. GEORGE — Hundreds of people met Saturday morning at Harmons Neighborhood Grocer in Santa Clara to participate in a “Back the Blue” procession that coursed past several local police stations and was organized as a way to raise funds and honor law enforcement.

The procession of vehicles with “Back the Blue” flags cruise down the road in support of local law enforcement, location unspecified, July 11, 2020 | Photo courtesy of Brad Roper, St. George News

The Sand Hollow SXS group and St. George SXS group collaborated to organize this event along with St. George resident Carson Hunt.

Hunt told St. George News there were at least 200 vehicles that showed up to participate in the event. He said most vehicles had two people in them and approximated that there was probably around 400 people who joined the procession.

Participants left from Harmons in Santa Clara at 10 a.m., and then cruised through downtown Santa Clara past the Santa Clara-Ivins Police Department. They then proceeded to drive past the St. George Police Department, the Washington City Police Department and the Hurricane Police Department and then looped back up to Sand Hollow State Park, where the ride ended.

Participants in the “Back the Blue” procession cruise by en route to drive by local police stations, location unspecified, July 11, 2020 | Photo courtesy of Brad Roper, St. George News

The event was a way to show support for law enforcement, especially at a time when tensions are high.

“In light of the recent events – the rioting and everything – we just felt like law enforcement, especially our local law enforcement, was kind of getting an unfair bad rap about things,” Hunt said. “And I believe that the silent majority is silent, and we wanted to make it a little bit less so.”

Hunt said he has a few close friends who are police officers who say it’s becoming more difficult every day to put on the badge.

“We wanted to let our law enforcement know that we recognize the sacrifices they make and the efforts they make and the quality work they do, and we wanted them to be aware of it and let them know there is a large group in our area that are willing to stand up and let that be known.”

Participants in the “Back the Blue” procession cruise by en route to drive by local police stations, location unspecified, July 11, 2020 | Photo courtesy of Brad Roper, St. George News

Hunt said when they first started organizing the event, they wanted to do more than just show support in spirit. They also wanted to raise funds. In order to help facilitate this mission, 100 thin blue line ATV flags were bought by local businesses and donated to the event organizers.

In addition to selling the flags, donations were also collected.

“We haven’t gotten the final tally of money yet, but it should be over a $2,000 donation that we’re going to make to the Utah 1033 Foundation,” he said.

Several officers at the various departments watched as the procession drove by. Some of them even had their lights flashing. Hunt said the officers all expressed gratitude for the show of support.

Participants in the “Back the Blue” procession cruise by en route to drive by local police stations, location unspecified, July 11, 2020 | Photo courtesy of Brad Roper, St. George News

“They kept trying to thank us, and we were like, ‘No. You got it wrong. This is us trying to thank you,’” he said.

Santa Clara – Ivins Police Chief Bob Flowers, who witnessed the procession, told St. George News that in the 35 years he has worked in law enforcement, he has never seen this type of support.

“I thought it was simply wonderful,” he said. “It meant a lot to my department, especially when we’re being beat up every day all day long. People telling you that your profession is the scourge of the West.”

Flowers added that he’s received letters and phone calls as well as had people approach him in the grocery store who express deep criticism to law enforcement.

“Back the Blue”  event, Cedar City, Utah, June 11, 2020 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News / Cedar City News

“There’s a million police officers out there and they’re not going to act right all the time – they’re just not going to,” he said. “People make mistakes. We deal with highly emotionally charged situations where lives are threatened and – we’re flawed – sometimes we make mistakes.”

While he said he’s never seen the environment so hateful, he’s also never seen so much support. Seeing the procession was a reminder of how many people there are in the community who do support and appreciate law enforcement.

“I was completely surprised and proud,” he said. “There had to be a couple hundred people there on a hot Saturday morning. It meant a lot to everyone.”

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