DANVILLE, Ill. (WCIA) — Neighbors gathered outside the Vermilion County Public Safety Building to show support for local law enforcement officers Saturday afternoon.
Some could be heard chanting ‘Support the Blue’, while others waved their thin blue line flags.
Police and other drivers honked their cars as they passed by.
State Rep. Mike Marron (R-Fithian) attended the rally. He and organizers told WCIA the rally was planned in light of the state’s most recent criminal justice reform bill. They said they were concerned about the implications of that bill on the Danville Police Department and the group wanted to remind officers that they support them.
“They’re at a spiritual low,” Marron said. “A few police contacted me when we were discussing the bill in Springfield, and it was a hit on their morale. So we just wanted to come out and show some support and let them know the community’s behind you, we support them.”
Rebekah Holt-Miller organized the rally. She said police officers, including her husband, feel blind sighted by the bill. She said punishing all police for the actions of a few bad officers would be counter-productive to policing.
“I believe 99% of law enforcement would like to see change of some kind, but they should be asked,” Holt-Miller said. “That bill was written by people who never spent a day on their shift. I’d love to see change too but this is not the way to do it.”
Supporters of the bill argue the intention is not to attack or alienate police officers. In a statement, the Champaign County President of the NAACP, Minnie Pearson, countered by calling for good cops to start holding their fellow officers accountable for wrong-doing.
She also argued by not passing this bill, the state would reinforce current structural problems the black community faces with police.
The bill primarily ends the cash bail system in illinois, but also includes a number of other measures focused on police transparency and accountability, prisoner’s and detainee’s rights, and bans the use of certain military equipment.
The bill itself has already passed through both chambers of the State Congress, and currently needs to be signed by Gov. J.B. Pritzker to become law. Pritzker has indicated he intends to sign the bill.
To learn more about the sweeping reform bill package, click here.