"Back the Blue" rally in Fickel Park attracts hundreds of supporters
By Amber McIver-Traywick
A “Back the Blue” rally in support of police attracted approximately 300 people to Fickel Park Sunday. Supporters stood along Mountain Avenue waving American Flags and hold signs with messages of support for law enforcement.
The number of people who showed up to the park exceeded the expectations of the event’s organizer, former Larimer County Sheriff’s Office deputy and military veteran Ryan Armagost.
Rally supporters spread out throughout the park as well as lining the street. Families and people of all ages waved to vehicles as they passed, many honked horns and waved back.
Armagost had intended the event to be small and predominantly attended by local residents. After posting an event announcement on Facebook about the rally several weeks ago news quickly spread and over a thousand people indicated they were interested in attending.
Shortly after the announcement, a post was circulated on Reddit and other social media depicting a cartoon urinating on an upside American flag, encouraging protestors to attend the rally. The post was shared to dozens of “anarchist” and “anti-fascist” groups in the state. Several reposts of the call to protest mentioned the events that took place at a pro-police rally in Denver the previous weekend. At that event anti-police protesters walked into an amphitheater banging drums, blowing whistles, clanging pots, and shouting obscenities to drown out the pro-police rally. Clashes between the groups led to some isolated violence.
Armagost was concerned about these posts and notified the Larimer County Sheriff’s Office to ensure the safety of the event.
Around 10 a.m. around 30 protestors marched down Mountain Avenue toward the rally chanting and holding a banner that said, “Defund the Police.” A large group of rally attendees met the group in the road but were separated from the protestors by deputies attempting to get the protestors to move from the main thoroughfare to the sidewalk across from the park. According to Sergeant Jim Anderson, “The posse and bike units were acting as a barrier between the rally-goers and the protestors, with the goal of keeping the peace and preventing violence.”
A heated exchange continued with profanity-laden language between the two groups as they stopped to engage each other on the road. Deputies continued to be a barrier between the sides as the protestors began walking back to the Turner Middle School parking lot where their vehicles were nearby. Sgt. Anderson said he felt LCSO’s presence there was a success, “There were no injuries and no property damage.”
The clash between the group lasted less than an hour and the remainder of the rally which went until 2 p.m. was relatively peaceful as attendees returned to the park once again waving to traffic, holding signs and flags.
Toward the end of the rally, another small group of protestors unaffiliated with the first group arrived at the park holding signs supporting Black Lives Matter and LGBTQ communities. Deputies again made a barrier between rally attendees and the protestors. Individuals from both sides argued back and forth but the exchange remained peaceful.
Armagost said, “I’m happy with how it turned out, we were here to show appreciation and support,” also mentioning he was grateful for the police presence ensuring the safety of all who attended.
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