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When hundreds gathered in downtown Fresno on Thursday afternoon for a march to support police, it was short on ceremony but long on appreciation.

Carrying American flags, “Support the Blue” flags, and various political messages on signs, about 300 gathered at City Hall. They marched down Tulare Street with a brief stop at police headquarters.

“This has been one of the highlights of my life to be out here with all these people that are in agreement. As you can see, this was a very safe march. It was nonviolent,” said organizer Tom Hardin, a retired police officer.

Marching on the Streets

“My motivation was talking to people about what’s going on in our country and not feeling like I was doing anything but complaining. I wanted to do something.”Tom Hardin, march organizer

Fresno police provided traffic control, stopping traffic on Tulare and N streets as the marchers — who mainly stayed on the sidewalk — passed.

One woman and her son told a bicycle officer “I love you.” The officer replied in kind.

The group then headed to the peace officers’ memorial at Courthouse Park. Hardin and Todd Frazier, president of the Fresno Police Officers’ Association union, gave short speeches.

Frazier asked for the benefit of the doubt whenever a police video appears on social media.

“We’re going to be a better department. … We try to do our jobs the best we can, right. As effectively as we possibly can,” Frazier told a receptive audience gathered around the memorial.

Hardin said didn’t want to be a bystander as he saw his profession under attack.

“My motivation was talking to people about what’s going on in our country and not feeling like I was doing anything but complaining. I wanted to do something. I thought that this was a great place to start,” Hardin told the media after the speeches.

Tom Hardin speaks to a crowd of about 300 at Courthouse Park, supporting police. (GV Wire/Jahz Tello)

Mayor-Elect’s Sister Attends

Diane Dyer, the sister of former Fresno police chief and current mayor-elect Jerry Dyer, attended the rally. She is a former Fresno police officer.

“(Police) are the backbone of the city and without police, what are you gonna do?” Dyer said. “We stayed silent for so long. I don’t think we should be afraid of the other side. All lives matter. But there needs to be some kind of police in our community. Without the police, it’s gonna be chaos. It’s gonna be worse. We need to unite.”

Robert Lightfoot, a retired Fresno police sergeant whose wife is with the department, says it’s harder to be an officer now than during his tenure.

“Because of social media, because of cameras, because of various other ways of communicating … it’s more transparent now, which I think is actually for the better. But it can hinder investigations and it can hinder officers in their work,” Lightfoot said.

Black Lives Matter

As the marchers gathered at Fresno City Hall, the faded remnants of the “Black Lives Matter” street art remained on P Street.

Hardin said he supported Black Lives Matter in a literal sense.

“Obviously (I) believe that Black Lives Matter. I love everyone. I believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross for all of us and he was color blind,” Hardin said. “I don’t necessarily believe in the organization itself. But I love all people of all colors.”

About five protesters gathered in front of City Hall, some carrying signs decrying police brutality. They mainly kept to themselves.

A downtown Fresno police bicycle officer stops to chat with marchers on Thursday, July 23, 2020. (GV Wire/Jahz Tello)

3 Responses

  1. Bernard Rieux

    Police officers are big proponents of personal responsibility, except when it comes to taking responsibility for the reputation of police officers. Then the responsibility belongs to sneaky Marxist anarchist social justice activists infiltrating cultural institutions.

    “The respect [for police] has gone out the window,” complains Hardin. I agree with him. I hope he’s able to fully reflect on why that’s the case rather than just immediately deflect blame onto somebody else. Personally I think a big part is that cops have done so poorly at adapting to the cell phone and body cam era of policing. People from the suburbs are now getting a glimpse of what it’s like when routine traffic stops involve being taken out of your car and handcuffed, or when being a black teenager from South Fresno and giving a cop a dirty look means getting your nose broken and resisting charges filed against you with a falsified police report. The reality is that a lot of people have perfectly valid reasons for not respecting the police.

    Good cops don’t need rallies.

    Reply
    • Hank

      Treat yourself to a few weekend ride alongside with local police and alllow yourself to develop a new, realistic perspective of A Day In The Life A Local Cop!
      Police are highly trained, intelligent individuals and if you’d ever spoken to one, you would already know this.
      Tell your rebellious friends and yourself, to comply to officers commands and not to run. Just those 2 items will allow problem solving dialog. Think about it and treat yourself to an attitude adjustment too. Cops are the good guys. Who do you call when you need help?… the drug addict down on your corner? Good luck.

      Reply
  2. Joe Barron

    The reputation of Police Officers is not at issue, it is the method of how LEOs engage and escalate if the situation is not calling for such escalations. The telemarketing calls for LEOs to get their “Final Expenses” paid for is a bit of an interesting phenomena in this nation, because it tries to capitalize on this, “Back the Badge,” philosophy, but when those individuals who are on the other side of the line asked, “When are you going to do a fundraiser for teachers, students, or school staff members who are victims of on campus gun violence. They take the same risk as LEOs do, and do so without body armor, a taser, or a service weapon? However, when it comes payout for final expenses, the amount has to be squeezed out of insurance companies.” The line goes silent, and the resounding click is heard. There is no doubt that LEOs face challenges every day, but that is not what the conversation is about? The conversation is about if LEOs are being instructed and conditioned to seek out and target certain populations for harassment, shakedowns, and incarceration, then that is a fundamental denial of the essential liberties that government is charged to protect.

    Reply

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