By Jonathan Ramirez
Demonstrators adorned in red, white and blue and waving American flags rallied in Temecula on June 12 in support of law enforcement and President Donald Trump.
Nearly 100 protesters gathered on all four corners of the intersection of Winchester and Ynez Roads in response to the nationwide Black Lives Matter protests for George Floyd and other victims of racial violence.
Bob Kowell, the organizer of the event, said the rally was planned due to shock over the violence that has erupted at some Black Lives Matter demonstrations. Word of the rally spread via email as protesters arrived everyday of the week since June 8.
“We got together and were kinda depressed by the hurting, looting and the murdering of people all over the country,” Kowell said. “Seeing the destruction and the ‘so called’ Black Lives Matter people and ANTIFA and what they are doing, we said that we wanted to support the police and our country. We want to support our leader Trump.”
A booth was set up on the Promenade Mall corner that gave out petitions in an effort to recall Gov. Gavin Newsom. The person who was responsible for giving out these petitions declined to comment.
Some protesters were concerned with the Black Lives Matter movement and said there is a level of misunderstanding on both sides.
“I see the country beginning to disintegrate with what’s happening now with the rioting,” said a protester who identified himself only as John. “But it’s all because of communication. I don’t think we are communicating properly.”
John stressed that, while Black lives do matter, so do White lives, Asian lives and blue lives, the latter being a reference to the importance of police emphasized by the demonstration.
“They all matter,” he said. “But if I say that then they get upset because they think that I am not supportive of black lives when I really am.”
Although the purpose of the rally was to mainly honor police and counter the protests against them, some demonstrators admitted there are problems with law enforcement around the country.
Bill Kezar, a former reserve police officer, disagreed with the handling of Floyd by Minneapolis police officers. He argued that reform of police departments is needed, rather than the defunding or abolition of them, as many anti-police protests have begun to call for.
“We need effective policing especially in the Black communities,” Kezar urges. “In our inner cities, we need well trained police officers. Those officers in Minneapolis were not well trained and I could tell.”
Another demonstrator, John Guzman Jr., said that in order to move past an “us vs. them” mentality between the different sides, people with different opinions need to sit down and try to understand each other by finding common ground.
“Like cleanups or having safety in the community with less crime,” Guzman Jr. said. “I don’t think that’s strictly a Republican or Democrat thing. There may be many different ways of going about it, but I think it’s having friends that are from different areas who are willing to listen.”
Counter-protesters with Black Lives Matter signs drove past the rally frequently to show their opposition to the Trump supporters. Counter-protesters chanted “Black Lives Matter” while the Trump supporters chanted “All Lives Matter” to drown them out before they drove away. Although the demonstration remained peaceful, a water bottle was thrown at the protesters from a passing car at one point.
Police presence was minimal and demonstrators began dispersing at around 7 p.m.