WASILLA — About 100 people gathered to show their support for police officers across the nation during a ‘Back the Blue’ rally off the Parks Highway near Wasilla Lake Saturday.
Rally organizer Stacey Ham said that she was very encouraged by the turnout and amount of honks from passing vehicles.
“I loved hearing all the horns. It’s like people privately celebrating in their cars,” Ham said.
Ham said that she took it upon herself to host a rally for police officers after one was held in Anchorage. She said that she posted her idea to hold one in Wasilla onto social media and the overall feedback was positive with many people encouraging her to do it. When it came time to start the rally, it was clear a lot of people were gonna be there.
“This is much bigger than the comments I had,” Ham said with a laugh.
Ham said that she started planning the rally about a week ago, polling community members on what day would work best. Saturday had the vast majority of availability and with Independence Day around the corner, Ham didn’t want to wait any longer.
“We gotta do it now,” Ham said.
This is the first time Ham has held an event of this scale. She said that her father was in law enforcement for 16 years and she’s studying to become a police psychologist. She said that she has a strong grasp on what officers deal with on a daily basis and couldn’t stand the idea of them getting “hit or spit on.”
“This was just the right thing to do,” Ham said.
Ham said that it’s very important for community members to simply respect their local law enforcement officers.
“You don’t have to like what they do,” Ham said. “Everyone’s gonna’ have that 911 moment. It’s so much easier to be able to trust who’s showing up.”
Ham noted this rally was not a counter-protest and there’s no ill will or racism in their pursuits.
“This isn’t to counteract what Black Lives Matter is doing,” Ham said. “I believe we can have two sides of the same coin.”
Ham said that she’s “totally against” what happened to George Floyd — who died under the knee of police officer in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in May — but her support for police officers as a whole will not falter. She said supporting police officers does not automatically mean someone is racist and that type of divisive thinking is hurting everyone.
“It’s just a scary world for law enforcement right now,” Ham said.
Ham said people should pay attention to this period of time and take a moment to “be silent and hear both sides.”
Ham said that her father taught her to watch their back growing up, but never to automatically judge anyone. She said he always told her to listen to her “inner voice.”
“We were taught to love everybody, and we were taught by a police officer to love everybody,” Ham said.
Contact Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman reporter Jacob Mann at firstname.lastname@example.org