Supporters of law enforcement and first responders rally confront counter protesters Friday at the Snohomish County Plaza in Everett on July 17, 2020. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Supporters of law enforcement and first responders rally confront counter protesters Friday at the Snohomish County Plaza in Everett on July 17, 2020. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Backing the blue: A call to speak out draws more than 200

A rally in support of police touches on many other topics; counter demonstrators kept at a distance.

EVERETT — Chants of “Defend the Police” rang out through the Snohomish County Plaza and a combination of American flags and Thin Blue Line flags rippled above the heads of the few hundred people who attended Friday evening’s Back the Blue rally in Everett.

The message was clear; support the police.

“This is a protest against demonizing the law enforcement, demanding to defund the police, the recall of our sheriff and targeting and injuring and murdering of our police officers,” the events organizer Anita Azariah said during her opening remarks.

The event began with a moment of silence for Bothell police office Jonathan Shoop who was shot and died in the line of duty earlier this week.

Organized by the Snohomish County Republican Party, the event, arranged on Facebook, included an array of speakers from candidates vying for state offices, a local Young Republican and Snohomish County Sheriff Adam Fortney.

“So this is what the silent majority looks like, I love it and I am tired of being silent,” Fortney said after entering to a standing ovation.

Topics of discussion during the hour-and-a-half long rally stretched well beyond supporting the police.

Speakers condemned sex education in school and reports that some students no longer being taught the Pledge of Allegiance. The ongoing coronavirus was labelled as a fake pandemic by more than one speaker, to the delight of an audience primarily without masks and Gov. Jay Inslee was mentioned more than once as a tyrant.

Across the street, approximately two-dozen counter protesters waved Black Lives Matter flags and held signs supporting the Defund the Police movement.

Both sides jeered at each other often, but undercover police officers were quick to defuse the few brief moments of tension.

During his 20-minute speech, Fortney said he is listening to those communities who have lost trust in the police, but said he won’t make any rash decisions that would harm law enforcement.

“We cannot give in to this defund the police crap,” he said.

Ian Davis-Leonard: 425-339-3448; idavisleonard@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @IanDavisLeonard.

Ian Davis-Leonard reports on working class issues through Report for America, a national service program that places emerging journalists into local newsrooms to report on under-covered issues. To support Ian’s work at The Daily Herald with a tax-deductible donation, go to https://www.heraldnet.com/support/.

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