An armed society is a polite society. Robert Heinlein offered those words decades ago and they remain true today. In Bloomington, Illinois, last weekend’s “Back the Blue” rally to support police remained mostly peaceful, sort of, but only because malcontents and troublemakers knew that participants had guns. Lots of guns. And the will to use them to protect innocent life.
Almost 700 people attended the rally. Organizers held it on private property, surrounded by a fence so as to control access with an eye towards the safety of attendees. Not only that, but by holding the rally on private property (as opposed to a city park), carry license holders could bring their defensive tools.
Inside the rally, a fun, celebratory atmosphere welcomed supporters of police and law and order. It seemed like a pep rally at times, oozing with patriotism and friendliness.
The rally took on an air of seriousness as prayers were offered and speakers talked of law enforcement officers who had died in the line of duty. But by and large, the family-friendly event seemed almost festive.
Meanwhile, about 40 radical malcontents set up immediately outside the entrance to the park and harassed latecomers as they arrived, shouting profanities and sticking cameras in their faces.
The handful of anti-police agitators was quite a motley crew.
They had communications specialists like this one. He obstructed the entrance as much as possible and banged on a drum while offering childish chants.
When people verbally pushed back, his favorite refrain usually involved some form of an F-bomb.
This little drummer girl’s shirt says it all.
These two struggled to synchronize channels on their walkie talkies.
This man came inside posing as a supporter of the police. He proceeded – with his fly down – to where a number of kids were playing and started mouthing a variety of not-so-family-friendly remarks against police. Almost immediately, nearby men “escorted” him to the cops at the entrance where he was arrested.
It isn’t known why his fly was down or why he chose to approach the area where children were playing to heckle the crowd.
A well-known local communist activist in the purple shirt and bandana mask tried to provoke a response from these three young people as they entered the park. As he livestreamed them, he repeatedly tried to bait them, but they weren’t buying it.
His targets were more amused than intimidated.
Here’s another group amused by the chants of the hecklers. The woman second from the left was a reporter from the local NPR station, WGLT, the local NPR radio.
Another couple came strolling in and Mr. Purple Shirt tried his baiting act again.
He almost ran into me and then his buddy with the gray union organizer branded shirt joined him shouting at me as a police sergeant intervened to push them back onto public property.
On the street outside, passersby gave all manner of support to police working traffic control and security outside the park and across the street as the rally worked through its program.
Aside from the 40 or so malcontents, people in the area generally supported the rule of law.
As the rally wore on, the anti-police counter-demonstrators grew increasingly frustrated that they couldn’t interfere with the event inside the park. They grew more profane and obnoxious with many leaving early or returning to their vehicles.
Some grew still more aggressive.
So much so that the police stepped in to stop Mr. “Illinois is better served without ICE” from continuing his badgering pursuit of the attendee walking away from the tirade.
By the time the rally concluded, in part because of the largely hands-off approach of the police, the anti-cop people became very aggressive.
In this case, Mr. Man Bun’s actions and body language suggested he wanted to attack the old man in the hat on the far left.
It became so bad that after the event ended, I put the cameras down on the way out so I could have my hands free to protect my two year-old boys.
In the end, the event provided Bloomington area residents an opportunity to offer support to their local police. Thankfully things didn’t turn violent. In my view, that was because of the deterrence value of good guys carrying guns. Because many of the troublemakers would almost certainly have physically accosted participants if they knew their would-be victims didn’t have an effective means to fight back.