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Rally to support law enforcement held in Fort Myers

 

A rally to support law enforcement took place Sunday in downtown Fort Myers and dozens of people showed up to show how much they appreciate law enforcement. There were also some who showed up in silent protest of the event.

“Taps” was played to support fallen officers and their names were read.

The organizers wanted to show law enforcement officers – current, former and fallen – that they have support from the community.

“We want to show these law enforcement officers that we appreciate them and when they come to work and put their lives on the line, there are people that respect them and care,” said Paul Schmidt, one of the organizers of Sunday’s event.

One advocate said that people can’t forget there are good officers in the wake of what some bad officers have done.

“We can’t mess up the integrity of the uniformed officers for the ones that are bad apples. We have to punish them and show them that we are reforming our law enforcement,” said Darren Aquino, national chief advocate for disabled policemen, firemen and veterans.

In addition to supporters, many individuals running for Congress and their representatives attended the rally.

While Aquino and others at the rally are supporters of law enforcement, many in Southwest Florida and across the country are continuing to protest police brutality.

Tashell Villafana, one of the silent protesters at Sunday’s rally, had this to say: “I had to be here letting them know that this can’t go on without opposition. People are still being treated badly and unfairly here and we will always speak up no matter what.”

A dozen silent protesters with Peaceful Protest of Lee County held signs reading “No Justice, No Peace” and “Black Lives Matter.” They wore masks and sat off to the side as the rally to support law enforcement continued.

Rachel Bass, an organizer with Showing Up for Racial Justice Southwest Florida said they were there “just to continue to show the community that here in Southwest Florida, we believe that black lives matter.”

Those supporting law enforcement at one point did approach the silent protesters sitting on the side, shouting into megaphones. But for the most part, the event remained peaceful.

Bass just wants to make sure that everyone understands that “no one is free until everyone is free, and what happens to our neighbors affects us too.”

Reporter:Andryanna Sheppard
Writer:Drew Hill
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