CEDAR CITY — Around 100 people gathered in front of Cedar City’s city offices Thursday evening for a “Back the Blue” protest.
The event, which lasted just under an hour, was organized by Cedar City resident Dan Kidder as a way of expressing support to local law enforcement.
The program began with 11-year-old Ada Holt singing the national anthem, after which Kidder asked those in attendance to observe a moment of silence for the law enforcement officers who’ve lost their lives, particularly those that have happened during the nationwide protests that have taken place since the Memorial Day death of Minneapolis resident George Floyd at the hands of police who were arresting him.
“Over the past couple of weeks, we have seen over 800 police officers hospitalized around the country, and we’ve seen several more killed,” Kidder said right before the moment of silence began.
In his opening remarks, Kidder addressed the question of why Thursday’s event was called a protest as opposed to a rally or some other type of event and stressed the gathering was not meant to detract from the message of previous protests. Instead, it was meant to be inclusive, he said.
“Anyone who is proud of our law enforcement and the job that they do, keeping us safe and protecting us, should be welcome here,” Kidder said. “And that includes Black Lives Matter. That includes any people of any ethnicity who believe in protest and the right of free speech. This is not a protest against any of those people.”
One reason for calling it a protest, he said, was so that the gathering wouldn’t be limited to fewer than 12 people, due to coronavirus restrictions. Additionally, Kidder noted that protests don’t require advance notification nor official city approval, which thereby allowed him and the other organizers to put the event together more easily and rapidly.
“I think it is also appropriate to call it a protest because of the acts of violence and murders of our police officers across the country for something that they didn’t do,” Kidder added.
“Over the past few weeks, we’ve seen our country get ripped apart, and it breaks my heart,” he added. “I’m a big advocate and an amazing supporter of peaceful protest. I can’t imagine anything more American than what we are doing right now, here today.”
Cedar City Mayor Maile Wilson-Edwards also addressed the crowd briefly, expressing her appreciation for local law enforcement officers who serve the community.
“As we’ve seen the riots and protests around the country based upon the actions that led to the death of Mr. George Floyd, that doesn’t represent all law enforcement,” Wilson-Edwards said. “They don’t represent the actions of the men and women that we have here in this community.”
“Our officers here, they come out, day in and day out, and put their lives on the line to support our community and to serve all of us, and for that, we are forever grateful,” she said. “They see some of the most horrific things that go on in the community, and then have to go home to their families and deal with the trauma of their job.”
“We are grateful for their sacrifice, we are grateful for their contribution. We are grateful for the service that they provide to all of us,” she added. “We appreciate all of you that support the actions of our good officers and all of their hard work.”
Cedar City Police Chief Darin Adams also spoke, expressing his appreciation for the outpouring of support he and his officers have received lately, including “more food and treats than we can handle.”
“Thank you from the bottom of our hearts,” Adams said. “We love our community, We engage with one another. We look at it as a partnership. We certainly could not do our jobs without each and every one of you and we know that.”
“As we engaged with groups the past couple of weeks in protests for very righteous reasons, we stood hand in hand with them and marched the streets and provided protection,” Adams added. “And so, the commitment really is that we are here for you, our community. We’ll listen to you. We want to do everything we can to ensure public safety. By the same token, we are committed to holding offenders accountable, those who would threaten our quality of life and who would disrupt our way of life here in Iron County.”
Iron County Sheriff Ken Carpenter had also been invited to speak but was unable to make it due to being away on a work-related call. He later contacted Kidder and expressed his regrets.
As a token of appreciation for local law enforcement, Kidder gave the sheriff and Chief Adams each a stack of complimentary $25 gift cards to Pork Belly’s, enough for every employee of their respective departments to have one. The restaurant made a generous donation of $6,000 worth of gift cards, Kidder noted.
In his closing remarks, Kidder spoke in favor of paying law enforcement officers more money and making sure their jobs aren’t needlessly difficult.
“The (state) legislature in Salt Lake City are overburdening these officers with ridiculous laws and requiring them to enforce them,” Kidder said. “And then they don’t want to pay them nearly enough to do it. There’s no reason a man should have to go out of his home and risk getting killed in the line of duty and get paid less than the man who collects your garbage.”
Kidder concluded by speaking out against racism.
“We need to do better,” he said, adding, “I will tell you, if we are going to truly fix the problems in this country, we’re not going to do it kneeling. We’re gonna do it standing up, arm in arm, together with every member of our community. We are going to do this by joining with our community, looking deep in our hearts and asking ourselves, ‘Am I racist?’ Because if you are, you suck! But it’s not a terminal condition. You can fix it.”
“Listen to people,” Kidder urged. “We all have different experiences. We all have different things that we bring to the table. We all have different skills and we need to employ them in our communities. And we need to stand up arm in arm and save our country today, because it is in danger.”
“I am so glad that you have all come out today. I am so moved that you have come out in support of our law enforcement officers and in protest of the violence in this country that is ripping us apart. God bless you all and God bless America.”
Following the event, attendees were invited to take home one of the “I Back the Blue” signs and display it in their own front yard.
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