Bonner County rallies behind law enforcement, discourages political division

by ALY DE ANGELUS
Staff Writer | August 2, 2020 1:00 AM

Editor's note: This story has been updated to reflect that Rodney Glen King was beaten brutally by LAPD officers in 1991, not beaten to death.

SANDPOINT — Red, white and blue flags, bandanas and street signs decorated both ends of North First Avenue sidewalks on Saturday afternoon.

Over 200 people stood in blistering heat to show support for Bonner County’s law enforcement at the “Back The Bonner Blue” rally.

“I think it’s fantastic that a group came out to support law enforcement,” Bonner County Sheriff Daryl Wheeler said, who was one of the many law enforcement officers to attend the event. “We have a huge group of supporters and also a group of law enforcement here in the county, so I am not surprised.”

Cars and bicycles zoomed through the bridge of community members on both sides of North First Avenue. Most people either honked or waved back at the participants to show solidarity.

Event organizer Jim Kelly was thrilled with the turnout. Kelly’s experience as a California police officer for 32 years and his three-year stint as a marine deputy in Bonner County is what gave him inspiration to post a notice on the Sandpoint Local Forum’s Facebook page.

“It’s more than I had even hoped for,” Kelly said. “I was thinking maybe 50 people or so. I got here at 11:15 a.m. and I saw a couple of cars pull in.”

And at quarter to 12, Kelly said the lot was packed. People were getting out of their cars with homemade signs, flags and shirts.

“Everybody is having a very good time. It’s very upbeat. I love it when the patrol cars come through,” Kelly said.

In recent weeks rallies and protests have taken place nationwide regarding police brutality and racial bias in the workforce. Kelly was clear to participants that this event was not to create political division, it was “like a high school rally” to show support for the Bonner County community.

“This is not about whose lives matter,” Kelly said. “I call it a rally, it’s not a protest. This is strictly to boost the morale of our law enforcement officers and dispatchers here in Bonner County so that if they see the paper tomorrow, they know that they are not hated.”

Kelly said he was a patrol sergeant in 1991 when Rodney Glen King was beaten brutally by officers from the Los Angeles Police Department. Kelly remembers going to a sandwich shop for a meal when a worker assumed he was a violent and unlawful officer.

“She looks me up and down and says, ‘Oh, how many people have you beaten with your baton tonight?’ I didn’t know her and she didn’t know me and I was a customer. We were constantly barraged with comments and insults. It’s an awful feeling.”

Among those in the crowd included Kandy Brumley, Bonner County resident of seven years, who said she was thankful for law enforcement support.

“I think this is an important thing that we are doing today,” Brumley said. “I hope people don’t make it political. Like I told my husband, don’t bring your political sign because this is for the police. I don’t want the police to be a political thing like what is happening in the nation.”

Another, Barbara Werner, expressed gratitude for law enforcement partnership with her profession — social work.

“If I had to go to some of the neighbors’ places without police, people would suffer,” Werner said. “When it was dangerous a police officer accompanied me and that’s what made it safer for me to do my job.”

Wheeler said he has not witnessed any outlash from the Bonner County community. Despite polarized conversations taking place about law enforcement throughout the United States, Wheeler doesn’t anticipate much negative comments toward police in the state of Idaho.

“I don’t think it’s going to hit Idaho,” Wheeler said. “I think we appreciate the rule of law and we appreciate the quality of life we have. I don’t think we will ever get to that point that’s happening in other parts of the country.”

Along with the rally, Bonner County Chaplain Corps partnered with Boundary county to design “Idaho Backs The Blue” T-shirts to fundraise for local law enforcement. T-shirts can be purchased by visiting the Bonner County Chaplain Corps Facebook page.

photo

Kandy Brumley (right) holds up a sign showing support for local law enforcement during Saturday’s Back the Bonner Blue event.

photo

(Photo by DYLAN GREENE) Mike Clark, 67, holds a sign that says, “Thank You Blue!” during Saturday’s rally.

photo

(Photo by DYLAN GREENE) People lined the sidewalks on First Avenue to support law enforcement in Bonner County.

photo

(Photo by DYLAN GREENE) People wave American flags and hold up signs during Saturday’s event.

photo

(Photo by DYLAN GREENE) A sign that says “Back the Blue” is held up during Saturday’s event.

photo

(Photo by DYLAN GREENE) Lots of people who drove by the Back the Bonner Blue event honked their horns, cheered and waved to support local law enforcement.

photo

(Photo by DYLAN GREENE) About 200 people lined First Avenue near the Bonner County Courthouse and held up flags and signs to show support for local law enforcement during the Back the Bonner Blue event on Saturday.

photo

(Photo by DYLAN GREENE) Bonner County Sheriff Daryl Wheeler (second to left) talks with residents during Saturday’s event.

photo

(Photo by DYLAN GREENE) A man holds up a flag to show support for local law enforcement on Saturday.

photo

(Photo by DYLAN GREENE) A woman holds up a “Law and Order” sign at Saturday’s event.

photo

(Photo by DYLAN GREENE) A woman tries to stay cool while waving an American flag at Saturday’s rally.

photo

(Photo by DYLAN GREENE) People cheer as a Ponderay Police Department officer drives by during Saturday’s event.

photo

(Photo by DYLAN GREENE) Residents cheer as a Sandpoint Police vehicle drives by during Saturday’s event.

photo

(Photo by DYLAN GREENE) People wave to cars passing by the county courthouse Saturday.

photo

(Photo by DYLAN GREENE) Rob Lowery (left) and his wife, Mavis, hold up signs supporting law enforcement during Saturday’s event. Rob’s sign said “Who You Gonna Call?”

photo

(Photo by DYLAN GREENE) A woman holds up a “Blue Lives Matter” sign during Saturday’s event.

photo

(Photo by DYLAN GREENE) A woman holds up a flag supporting President Donald Trump and the Second Amendment during Saturday’s event.