Dozens of American and Blue Lives Matter flags flew at the corner of Third Street and Grand Avenue Saturday as pro-police demonstrators filled the intersections’ four corners.
The demonstration was loosely organized by local citizen groups looking to show support for law enforcement amid protests against police brutality and racism that have seen supporters calling for reforms or even defunding police agencies.
Brandon Homan, who led marchers from the American Legion Post 14 to the busy downtown intersection, said he and his supporters planned to continue going to Laramie City Council meetings to make sure their position was heard.
“We’ve been very vocal on the Zoom meetings, and I don’t think we’re going to drum down,” he said. “We’re here backing our blue because they’ve backed us.”
The Laramie Human Rights Network, the grassroots organization leading the protests against police brutality and racism, posted on social media ahead of the pro-police demonstration telling supporters to not engage.
“We would like to make it clear that Laramie Humans does not promote our community members gathering to oppose this counter-protest,” the post reads. “This demonstration was created with the intentions to agitate and escalate our planned demonstrations and we do not want to play into their games. We support all forms of protest and want to extend a more respectful response than these people have to us in previous weeks. Please take this into consideration when seeing these posts and spend your evenings contributing constructively to our cause.”
Homes said he did not think the Laramie Humans Rights Network’s characterization of the pro-police demonstration as an act of agitation.
“We’re not counter-protesting anything — we’re pro-police,” he said. “That’s another group and they have freedom of speech and that’s something we’re marching to defend.”
Another pro-police demonstrator, Eric Lewis, said he also thought Saturday’s show wasn’t a response, but a statement in itself.
“As Americans, we understand rights, and we’ve watched certain things go in a direction that a lot of people around here aren’t pleased with, but we’re more of a silent majority,” he said. “There’s enough people anymore that are saying, ‘No more,’ we love our men in blue, and we should be giving them raises instead of trying to defund them.”
A small gathering of protesters associated with Black Lives Matter also gathered at the corner of Fourth Street and Ivinson Avenue.
Timberly Vogel said she felt it was clear the pro-police march was scheduled “purposefully and spitefully” for when protesters against police violence and racism normally gather.
“We didn’t want to influence people to come out and play into their game which is to antagonize everyone, but we did want to show that we’re not afraid of them and we hold these views that are very much the opposite of theirs,” Vogel said. “They use this ploy of loving America as if we don’t love America, but I think it’s more they are anti-Black Lives Matter. We wanted to come out and obviously appreciate their form of protest but show them we hold different views and no matter what capacity they come out in we are not afraid.”