BOONE — A “Back the Blue” protest will be held in Boone, on the campus of Appalachian State University on Saturday, July 18, to show thanks and appreciation to the High Country’s law enforcement officers, organizers said.
Beginning in the Peacock Parking Lot at 1:30 p.m., the ceremony will include a “Blessing of the Law Enforcement Officers,” and officers are encouraged to wear their uniform to the ceremony but are not required to do so. Face masks are encouraged along with social distancing practices throughout the event.
The protest is organized by Pastor Michael Greene of Bible Way Baptist Church in Boone and co-sponsored by the Boone-based conservative Christian political advocacy group Citizens for America Foundation and BLEXIT, which is a foundation that “strives to change the narrative that surrounds America’s minority communities — with a particular focus on African-Americans,” according to its website.
Greene, who has law enforcement members within his congregation, said, “Our nation is in pain right now. Many people are hurting, including our law enforcement officers and their families. Our goal is to let these officers and their families know that we appreciate their sacrifices. We, as a community, love them and God loves them.”
Founder and president of Citizens for America Foundation, Boone resident Chris Hughes, said that “the event is not a political event and is not a response to the actions of any other organization. It is a prayer event designed to let the wonderful law enforcement agencies and officers of the High Country and their families know that they are loved and appreciated … The actions of outside groups were never part of the conversation.”
Greene said that the event has been “extremely well received throughout the community.”
“I have spoken with many law enforcement officers in recent weeks, and they are excited and very appreciative to have a community that is willing to love them and show support for their service to the High Country,” Greene said. “It is something different and shows them how important they are and how much they mean to the community.”
According to Greene, every visitor and resident of the High Country is invited to attend on July 18.
“Every church in the High Country, local elected officials and all residents of the High Country and their guests are all invited to a special time to honor those who put these lives on the line for us every day,” he said.
During the event, there will be a time of prayer for each of the law enforcement agencies represented, followed by a presentation revolving around the history and overall need for law enforcement by Ron Baity, the chaplain for the Winston-Salem Police Department and founder of Return America.
The mission of Return America is “to build a network of churches and individuals to educate, motivate and mobilize citizens in a united effort in promoting Judeo-Christian values; to educate and influence government in these principles upon which our state and nation were founded,” according to the foundation’s website.
According to the event’s announcement, other “several well-known area pastors” will be in attendance to offer prayers to law enforcement.
Officers and their families are invited to take part in a free meal hosted at Bible Way Baptist Church following the conclusion of the event.