Nearly 100 gather in Napa for ‘We Back Blue’ pro-police rally

A rally in support of law enforcement drew about 100 people Wednesday evening in Napa. 

Organizers say more "We Back Blue" events are scheduled around the nation. 

"Officers are being judged by the actions of one man who did a horrible thing and we don't think that's right," said rally organizer Sheri DeBow, referring to the former Minneapolis officer who killed George Floyd with a knee to his neck.

DeBow and co-organizer Francine Knittel say they make no excuse for racist cops or misconduct.

"We completely acknowledge and call out the bad law enforcement officers," said Knittel.

But they want to support those who serve honorably. 

Holding signs and soliciting honks from passing drivers, the rally participants stretched across the river bridge downtown. 

"I'm sorry we're at this place where we have to come out and make a statement about the thin blue line," said one woman, pained by the explosion of anti-police sentiment the past few weeks.  

"It's heartbreaking, however that doesn't mean we have to do away with police or de-fund them, that is wrong," she added. 

Chimed in her husband, "It's policing, a difficult job and things happen, you've got to make split second decisions."

Napa has had sizable protests against racism and brutality for three consecutive weekends.

Police Chief Robert Plummer has knelt with local protesters to show his support for reform and healing.  

But those at Wednesday's rally fear an entire profession is being disgraced and demoralized, while its members continue to face danger daily.   

"What has happened to our law enforcement in America is a tragedy," said rally speaker Ben Berquam.

"Every time they leave their house, their sons and daughters aren't sure they'll come home at night." 

Other efforts around the country are also supporting police. 

A donation drive in Phoenix provided officers with cards and gifts in the form of "goodie bags."

The "We Back Blue" website lists other pro-police rallies in the weeks ahead.  

Already, one has turned confrontational, when it was met by anti-police counter-protesters in Tampa, Florida. 

A contingent of police critics initially planned to show up in Napa but changed their minds. 

Instead, the rally had the 3rd Street Bridge all to itself. 

"We feel that good experiences with law enforcement far outweigh the experiences that are bad," said DeBow, while acknowledging police culture and policies may have fostered bias and brutality in the past. 

'Of course there are going to be people who don't have integrity.

But you can't do a blanket statement across our nation that all law enforcement is bad," declared DeBow. 

Both she and Knittel have relatives who have been in law enforcement, and they are concerned good candidates will opt out because of the current hostile climate. 

"People who want to serve and keep communities safe, are going to say why, why be judged for every little move, why be looked at under a microscope," said Knittel.

A retired Napa County Sheriff's deputy attending the rally agreed. 

"Is there room for improvement? Of course, but you can't paint a broad brush and blame every officer for the mistakes of a few," said Doug Wilkinson.

"Politicians and people turning against law enforcement are despicable and have no idea what we sacrifice on a daily basis to keep people safe."