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Organizers postpone Back the Blue rally due to virus surge
blue lives matters

With online interest confirmed by more than 500 people, the organizers of the Manteca “Back the Blue” rally – which was scheduled to take place today on the busy corners near Yosemite Avenue at Spreckels Drive and Commerce Avenue – were expecting throngs of people showing their support for local law enforcement.

But after a spike in the number of COVID-19 cases in the county over the course of the last two weeks organizers decided to table the event for the foreseeable future.

Organizers are hoping that after health conditions improve in the South County that residents will be once again willing to stand up for the men and women in uniform that are sworn to protect their fellow citizens.

“It was a very hard decision to cancel this – we knew that there were 500 people that said they were interested and that’s not counting the number of people that would have just shown up,” said Kim Marie, one of the event organizers that made the decision to postpone the rally for the time being. “But we don’t want people to get sick either – my mother is currently in the hospital with (COVID) and having that many people is something we wanted to avoid.

“The next time we’re hoping it is even bigger than that – we’re really going to make a presence here in the community.”

Rather than gathering at a specific location, organizers were anticipating having participants spread out along the busy thoroughfare holding signs and carrying flags to send a message to motorists that the community stands behind its law enforcement officers.

Before making the decision to postpone the event, Marie said that she spoke to both Manteca Mayor Ben Cantu and Councilman Gary Singh about the plans for the rally and said that both were supportive of their efforts to express their appreciation. It was an idea that she got after seeing a successful event in Turlock that drew hundreds before the number of COVID-19 cases started shooting up dramatically.

The Manteca Police Department had been in communication with the organizers about conducting crowd control and providing security, and it was Singh that told Marie about the potential for a Black Lives Matter counter-protest once word began circulating on social media that the event was going to be taking place.

While the virus may have postponed the event, organizers have taken other steps to make sure that the Manteca Police knows that the community stands behind them and their efforts – just recently giving the department a “heart attack” back putting hearts up along the gates, fence lines so that they can see that event in times of unrest they have the support of those they serve.

“I know for a fact from experience that officers have been discouraged about what they see on the news and taking place around them – they need to see that their community supports them,” Marie said. “We had the ‘heart attack’ effort to send that message, and this rally was going to take it a step further and get the community involved.

“Fortunately, I think that Manteca is a community that supports its law enforcement – I haven’t heard anything about the ‘defund the police’ movement from the Manteca City Council, and we for sure do not stand behind those efforts. We just want our law enforcement officers to know that they’re appreciated.”

To contact reporter Jason Campbell email or call 209.249.3544.