You may have seen the small but mighty group of law enforcement supporters rallying on the corner of Bendigo Blvd S and SW Mt Si Blvd over the last couple of months. But who are they, and what do they stand for?
Long time North Bend resident Art Farash says these people are residents of the Snoqualmie Valley. They want to show their solidarity with the King County Sheriff, Snoqualmie & North Bend Police Department and the Seattle Police Department.
Their first rally was in July on Snoqualmie Ridge. It was organized by some residents and families wanting to show support for the local Police. Following the lead of similar rallies in Maple Valley and elsewhere, these residents started a group called ‘Back the Blue Snoqualmie Valley.’ They have regular Saturday rallies in North Bend and, more recently, Snoqualmie Ridge.
Participation has varied between small groups of four or five to as many as twelve to fourteen people.
Farash, a former Washington State Patrol and corrections employee, combat veteran and retired Army, says the gatherings show support for all police officers. Officers are under attack at this time and in the interest of public safety to show their opposition to defunding the Police. Their only message is to show support for the King County Sheriff, oppose any defunding, and have a strict rule prohibiting any show of politics at the rallies.
Local Jessica Besso goes, with her two sons and husband, each weekend because “the Sheriff and Police are people who serve us. We know them and their families, and they are putting their lives on the line for our community every day.”
They have been called some terrible names and have had things thrown at them, but the vast majority of the public’s responses have been positive. Says Besso, “my kids have witnessed adults waving American flags, saying they are praying for our country and smiling in response to the vulgarities they hear. It has been a good educational opportunity for them to see humanity at its worst and best.”
Robyn Balcom, another Snoqualmie Valley resident, has a home and small business in North Bend. She has lived around the world and witnessed many cultures and societies. When her family returned to the US, she was eager to model an active citizen to her school-age children. Many years were in Africa, and she “had a deep appreciation for our American Republic and the blessing of living in a nation of Freedom within the constraints of Law and Order.”
“I taught my children to respect their teachers, to respect others, and to respect Police who put themselves in harm’s way to protect our lives and our laws. I have been horrified by what has happened in Seattle and King County to our Law Enforcement!! It is not political.”
According to all, the response has been overwhelmingly positive from passersby with only the occasional adverse reaction. The group has had people give them food and drinks almost every Saturday, and there are always many cars blowing their horns to show support. Individuals have personally expressed their gratitude for what the group is doing, including both on duty and off duty police officers and family members of police officers and sheriff’s deputies.
If you’d like to participate in a Back the Blue rally, you can Saturday the 31st from 1 pm until 3 pm. This week’s rally will be on Snoqualmie Ridge at the corner of Snoqualmie Parkway and Douglas St near police headquarters.