Group gathers to show support for law enforcementJune 30, 2020
By LEANN BURKE
JASPER — Watching the news lately gave Cathy Siddons of St. Anthony the urge to stand up.
As protests and rallies have spread across the country in the wake of the murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer, Siddons was seeing only messages against law enforcement as a whole and calls to defund the police — a movement that wants to see funds reallocated to go to social services that can intervene in place of law enforcement in some situations. She wanted to send another message, one of support for local law enforcement officers and the work they do. She set up a private Facebook group, gathered like-minded friends and family, and took to the street Saturday with signs declaring gratitude to local law enforcement officers.
“I was very upset,” Siddons said. “I believe we need law enforcement and that not all law enforcement [officers are] bad.”
If she was upset by the news, she only imagined how the officers must feel. That empathy spurred her and a group of 10 of her friends and family to action. For two hours Saturday morning, they stood along U.S. 231 near Walmart in Jasper. Passersby waved and honked their horns, and a few Jasper Police Department and conservation officers with the Indiana Department of Natural Resources stopped by.
“They stopped and took photos with us,” Siddons said. “We thanked them and their families for their service.”
Showing gratitude was the main goal for the group, said Staci Rhoderick of Huntingburg, Siddons’ sister.
“We want them to still protect and serve us,” Rhoderick said. “We want them to know they’re not alone, and they’re still supported.”
Rhoderick added that she has friends and family who are law enforcement officers, so she knows about the struggles law enforcement officers face each day and the horrors they see on the job.
Growing up, Rhoderick said, she was taught that if you were in danger or needed help, police officers were there to offer aid. A few times, Rhoderick said, she’s had to call on the police for help and never had any issues.
“Yes there are some that are bad,” she said. “But we don’t let the bad determine the good in everybody else.”
Siddons shared a similar thought.
“What happened is terrible,” she said. “But not all law enforcement is that way.”
Siddons hoped the demonstration could spread positivity at a time when most messages are filled with hate. Although she planned for the demonstration to be a one-time event, if the community is interested in gathering again, she said she’d be willing to organize another event.
Although neither Rhoderick nor Siddons has a solution for the unrest the country currently faces, both agreed that finding common ground would be the best place to start.
“I think we all need to stand together and stop making everything political,” Siddons said. “The fact is we are all human beings. Whatever color our skin is, inside it, we are all the same.”
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