The organizer of a “Back the Blue” event scheduled to take place in Annville Town Square on Thursday said he has no tie to a hate group, which he has been accused of supporting.
According to the Back the Blue Annville Facebook page, the event is “focused on building community support for local police officers.” It goes on to say, “With radical leftist protesters constantly vilifying our local heroes, it is our job to stand up and defend their honor.”
“We’re looking at it as a First Amendment-protected activity,” Annville Township Chief of Police Bernard Dugan said. “We don’t have an opinion.”
Dugan, as well as the organizer, have heard that an unknown source on social media has stirred emotions by saying all “Back the Blue” events are connected to Act for America, which is listed as an anti-Muslim hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
“I have no reason to believe that the person who organized it is doing it for the purpose of supporting police officers only,” Dugan said. “It seems like the confusion being raised is based on divisive social media posts. The source of it; I don’t know. It’s almost like the police are being put in the middle of a political football.”
The event is scheduled to take place from 3 to 6 p.m. in Annville Town Square, in Annville Township in Lebanon County.
PennLive spoke with a man who said he was one of the event’s organizers but he refused to provide his name. He said he has been an Annville Township resident for the past 15 years.
“For the past five months, people have been doing the same thing for Black Lives Matter,” he said. “Nobody can disagree with them. Defunding the police is completely absurd. Black Lives Matter hijack our support and say it’s a political movement when it’s not. I have no ties to Act for America. A group of us, we’re going to stand on the corner of the square and hold signs and American flags to support the police. And, I just hope others respect our right to do so.”
About 10 to 20 people are expected to participate. Dugan said a permit has been issued to them for the event.
The organizer said there is no political agenda, and political signage is not allowed, as well as no confrontation, or disrespect to another person. No profane language is allowed either.
“The phrase Back the Blue — it’s not a movement,” the organizer said. “It’s a phrase. It’s a phrase of support for our local police.”
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