My name is Ray Christian; my wife, Tiffany, and I have lived in the community for 17 years and raised 6 children here. My wife previously taught at App State as well and now works for a local business. I have taught as an adjunct professor for App State for just as long and prior to that I served 20 years in the US Army as an infantryman and paratrooper. Moreover, we are one of the few Black families in the county not from Junaluska.

I would like to bring to your attention my concern and distress over the upcoming “Back the Blue” protest scheduled for July 18 in Boone, N.C. My concern is despite the organizers’ insistence to the contrary, this “protest” appears to be political, targeted and in direct response to previous protests/events, most notably the two peaceful protests in Boone led by the Black community. The previous events were graciously supported, respected and empathized with by our local law enforcement. However, I believe this upcoming event has an agenda that goes far beyond simply showing support for law enforcement.

The organizations sponsoring the events and providing speakers include Citizens for America Foundation, a conservative political action group with a clear agenda in opposition to the current social movement for appropriate and consistent accountability for police who use unnecessary, and often deadly, force against Black people. Return America a religious political action group with an expressed anti-gay agenda. BLEXIT is a Conservative political action group veiled as a general Black interest organization, but has no real affiliations or credibility in the local or larger Black American community. Their co-founder, Candace Owens, has publicly stated that the Black Lives Matter movement is irrelevant and wrong and has publicly dismissed the death of George Floyd and minimized his life as being nothing more than that of a criminal, and asserting her support of police over the right of a Black suspect to be handled humanely by law enforcement so that he can have his day in court just as White suspects do.

My concern is that our local law enforcement is inadvertently providing the appearance of complicity with an event organized by groups whose agenda is overly counter the current focus on protecting Black people for brutality and LGBTQ rights. I have no objection to law enforcement doing their jobs and providing security and traffic control as a matter of public safety, but this event seems to imply that law enforcement is participating. If you look into the agendas and schedules speakers, complicity with this event only increases the current atmosphere of fear and suspicion of law enforcement.

Let me be clear: This is not an objection to free speech! I risked my life to protect our freedoms even when I don’t agree. However, my concern is that this is a counter protest with a clear political agenda that is luring in and implying law enforcement involvement under the cloak of “prayer.” Most of the invited speakers (and the organizations they represent) have a history of making homophobic slurs, supporting anti-gay legislation and discrimination, and some have openly expressed indifference to the killings of Blacks by law enforcement.

What does it do for the cause of unity in our community for people of color and the LGBTQ community to see our law enforcement officers clapping and applauding speakers who profess the idea that Black complaints are exaggerated, the death of George Floyd is nothing and that gay people are going to hell? How does this build confidence in law enforcement or departmental morale if we allow them to pit officers against each other and the community?

As small as our community is, our law enforcement is composed of varied racial/ethnic identities and sexual preferences. How does it impact those officers to see their peers and/or superiors involved in and supporting (beyond the public safety responsibilities of their jobs) an event hosting by and promoting political and social agendas that do not support them? I believe that the active participation by law enforcement will be a dangerous setback to the community relations and undo all the goodwill that has been previously expressed and valued.

Please consider the possibility that our local police officers could be used for political purposes. We have Black law enforcement officers in our community and others of us have friends and family that are part of the law enforcement community. We love them and support them in the just and legal execution of their oath to protect and serve. But this protest is set to question that love and support and question the motives of Black protesters by intertwining, religion, politics and support for law enforcement. This only serves to further divide the community.

The press release for this event states that many officers have communicated with the organizers and support this event. If true, this would be disturbing to know that our law enforcement is supporting a political event, which seeks to connect church and state by suggesting officers wear their uniform as they participate. It is inappropriate for off-duty officers to attend in uniform or for our law enforcement agencies to support this event outside the scope of their duty to protect and serve.

Dr. Raymond Christian 

SFC (Ret) USA

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(8) comments

wilsonsm999@gmail.com

I have lived here all my life and have black friends that live in Junaluska. We have never had any problems in the 54 years I've been alive. Ray, feel free to !I've back where you came from and leave our peaceful community alone. You are free to protest and we are free to pray for and support our Law Enforcement Officers!! How are you going to feel when you have an emergency and need to call 9_1_1?? I guess you don't need help if someone breaks in your house or attacks your family, for example. Good luck with that!

thechaosaysmuuuu

Wow. It looks like you (*maybe*) made it through the title and the first two sentences. If you had given Dr. Christian enough respect to actually read his entire piece you'd realize he's in no way shape or form trying to stop anyone's right to speak their minds, or attend this rally. He's expressing concern over the nature of the rally, the timing, and the national groups that are part of it.

Because it also applies to your response as well, here we go again:

"straw man" (noun)

1: An intentionally misrepresented proposition that is set up because it is easier to defeat than an opponent's real argument.

Dr. Christian is not making any argument against law enforcement officers. Again, if you had been respectful enough to take the time to read the thoughts of one of your neighbors, you would have realized this.

Please take a moment to think before you speak next time, and maybe work on having an ounce of empathy for your neighbors. Because you're certainly *not* acting in a very Christian manner with this combative attitude.

justin.powers87@gmail.com

Wow. What a horrible comment. I don’t personally know Dr. Christian but I have seen him and his family around and I have dealt with them in retail settings and I would be willing to bet they are much more of an asset to this community than you are. Either you did not read what he wrote and or you need to work on reading comprehension. This kind of ignorant comment is what divides the community. Thank you, Dr. Christian for standing up for what is right and for being a wonderful citizen. I’m sure you know this is one of the loud ignorant few, but I also hope you know how valuable you and your family are to this community. Thank you for your service to this country, App State and the greater Watauga County community.

jgmastin@yahoo.com

I too had similar toughts and concerns that Dr. Ray Christian expressed in his well thought out and expressed commentary regarding the "Back the Blue" prayer rally. Wilsonsm999's response to it is the typical "we all like the status quo here and if you don't like it, go back to where you came from" response and the balance plays on "the cops won't be here for you" fear that President Trump is playing up now. Reality is that law enforcement rarely is there anyway when something bad is going down. 90% (?) of the time they are just following up in an investigative moder on an incident that has already occurred. And, maybe he just doesn't speak for all of his black friends that live in Junaluska, where he obviously doesn't live. We need to encourage understanding, harmony, and cooperation among all communities, including law enforcement and any and all ethnic communities. Simple minded responses to our complex problems and issues today just don't cut it and that is what President Trump is doomed to fail in his re-election attempt in November. They simply usually don't work and likely never will! May God help us all to be a better people in the days to come!

J. Grant Mastin

Deep Gap, NC

Strachan

I am a former police officer from Savannah, and have lived in Boone since 2007. I agree with every word Dr. Christian wrote. Very well said.

Donald

Instead of prejudging the police and law enforcement groups prior to their rally, you might first want to observe this police support rally. No conservative nor Republican that I know has condomed criminal activities by a small minority of bad cops, and no one thinks that George Floyd was anything but a victim of police brutality -- by the same token, Floyd was not a hero as a result of his death at the hands of a bad cop. Floyd was a victim caught by law enforcement officers during his criminal act and should not have been raised to the level of an American military Congressional Metal of Honor person -- that's all Candice Owen was trying to say.

thechaosaysmuuuu

"straw man" (noun)

1: An intentionally misrepresented proposition that is set up because it is easier to defeat than an opponent's real argument.

Citizen

Ray, thank you for your service. Just perhaps, one has nothing to do with the other.

Welcome to the discussion.

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