“They are here for us, the best we can do is be here for them,”

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Hundreds turn out for Law Enforcement Appreciation Walk

Saturday, September 10, 2016

http://www.dailycommercial.com/news/article_18a8a022-6aa5-5fc7-adb9-d40005f9dfd8.html

Millard K. Ives millardives@dailycommercial.com

TAVARES

They were waving the red, white and blue

along with black and white Thin Blue Line flags.

Dotted with police officers and deputies,

about 500 people from all walks of life

marched through downtown Tavares early Saturday morning

to show their support at the county’s second annual Law Enforcement Appreciation Walk.

“It’s awesome to see so much support,”

said Sheriff Gary Borders,

who led the walk with other officials from his agency.

The roughly one-mile long walk began at the Historic Courthouse on Main Street at about 8:30 a.m.

Mostly on foot,

but

some on scooters and a couple in wheelchairs,

participants circled a couple of blocks as they paraded past the Orange Blossom Cannonball depot,

Ruby Street Grille,

Children’s House of Learning,

neighborhood homes

and

various businesses before stopping back at the courthouse.

“These people put their lives on the line every day for us,

it’s only right we show that we stand with them,”

said 27-year-old Jamie Coles,

who came from Clermont for the walk.

The event started last year with about 300 participants

as part of a Nationwide Walk to Support Law Enforcement.

It was spurred by the execution-style shooting of Deputy Darren Goforth,

who was pumping gas at a gas station in August 2015 when he was killed in Cypress, Texas,

said Sgt. Fred Jones, sheriff’s spokesman.

Since then the police have been under intense scrutiny over shootings of black men while being targeted in shootings of law enforcement officers.

The recent shooting of Dallas police officers was mentioned during a small pep rally on the grounds of the courthouse that kicked off Saturday’s walk.

“We want to keep that bond between the community and law enforcement officers,”

said sheriff’s Chief Deputy Peyton Grinnell,

who won the Republican primary in the race for sheriff.

“To have that community support is critical.”

The rally started with the playing of the national anthem

and

Borders was asked about NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick refusing to stand for the anthem in what he calls a protest of oppression, injustices and inequality.

“Our military fights for our freedom,

everyone should respect that,”

Borders said.

At times the walk seemed more like a parade

as the Tavares High School drumline added pulsating percussions to the event.

The walk also included politicians, prosecutors, pastors and school groups.

“I work with these law enforcement officers every day,”

said Assistant State Attorney James Argento,

who participated in the walk with his family.

Several walkers wore T-shirts honoring law enforcement,

including one with a Blue Lives Matter shirt.

Some wore shirts that read

Thin Blue Line,

a term for the police force.

Some law enforcement officers walked in uniform,

including the Leesburg police and sheriff’s office SWAT team.

The sheriff’s office SWAT team carried

G36 assault rifles

and

mingled with residents during the walk.

“It was a very good feeling,

seeing them support us,”

said SWAT Deputy Cory Sommer.

Judy Iby

had her two dogs dressed in police uniforms.

“They

(law enforcement officers)

are here for us, the best we can do is be here for them,”

Iby

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