GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA) – A group of people came together Thursday to show their support for Upstate law enforcement officers.
Private citizens, who organized the show of support, said right now officers and deputies need to know they are backed by their community.
The morning started with a prayer, but the remarks that followed all had one common message for law enforcement: you are appreciated and supported.
State Representatives Bobby Cox and Jason Elliott joined the gathering.
“This is a time not to de-fund but to defend the mission of what’s going on here in our country,” Cox said.
They joined Sheriff Hobart Lewis and Interim Police Chief Howie Thompson in front of the Law Enforcement Center at this gathering organized completely by private citizens like Jennifer Black.
“Right now, given what’s going on across the country, they don’t know if they’re backed they don’t know if they’re being supported and they’re doing it to protect us,” Black said.
Black, along with others, helped bring the roughly 50 people to the steps where officers report for duty every day.
“We are people as well. Wherever you go you have good and you have bad. So I understand that we are a law enforcement community and the community in Greenville County needs to understand that we need their help as well because we’re out with them every day,” Master Deputy Adrian Allen said.
Allen was also joined by a couple dozen other officers.
He spoke to 7 News on behalf of his brothers and sisters in uniform.
“I treat everybody the same. I’ve been doing this for 26 years now, so it’s very important that communication is key in this profession and understanding and explaining to people what’s going on, how it’s going on, and why it’s going on,” Allen said.
Both organizers and members of law enforcement said supporting law enforcement and listening to what protesters marching against police brutality are saying are not mutually exclusive.
“To show we don’t stand for racism, but we support the mission of our law enforcement because they are quiet professionals that put on the uniform every single day and go about their business put their lives on the line without a lot of fanfare,” said Cox.
“A lot of people feel like it’s an either or. Supporting law enforcement is not mutually exclusive from also supporting what is done right and we do need to see justice,” said Black.
Organizers said their hope is other areas of the Upstate take a similar stance to show that just because communities have issues, doesn’t mean folks can’t come together and find a way forward.