DOYLESTOWN >> Three protests played out on Sunday afternoon in the heart of the Bucks County seat and they couldn’t have been more different.
While people waved American flags and held up signs supporting police at the intersection of Court and Main, less than a block away at Main and State counter protesters chanted support for Black Lives Matter and the defunding of police.
Inside the courtyard of the Bucks County Administration building and on the sidewalks lining Main and Court, an almost festive atmosphere prevailed with patriotic and summer rock and roll music filling the air.
District Attorney Matt Weintraub addressed the “Back the Blue” rally, speaking highly of the law enforcement officers serving Bucks County and reminding listeners of the good things they do every day.
“It doesn’t matter who you are, where you’re from, how much money you make, no matter what race, creed or nationality, police respond to protect and to serve you,” said Weintraub. “At 3 in the morning, if you have an emergency they come. They don’t get paid extra depending on the number of calls they answer. They don’t get paid extra depending upon the time or the seriousness. You know you can count on them.
“We live in a bubble of protection,” said Weintraub. “This allows us to coach our kid’s baseball games, to attend parades, to go to graduation parties and even to peacefully protest. But I also want you to understand that our police officers are doing all sorts of other positive things to prevent crime even before it starts. We live in this bubble because we benefit from their protection. Crisis intervention, Bucks Police aiding in recovery. It’s a little know fact but our police officers have saved 200 lives as first responders with Narcan to people who would have otherwise died of an overdose.”
Weintraub also pointed to the senseless murder of four Bucks County boys a few years ago at a farm in Solebury Township and the dedicated police work that went into solving the murders and finding the bodies.
“I was side-by-side with our men and women in blue,” said Weintraub. “Through 100 degree heat and in the pouring down rain, we could not keep them away. More than 200 police officers dedicated their time and their passion, from 40 year veterans to second week cadets. And all they wanted to do was to bring these four boys home - boys they never knew to families they would never, ever meet - because that’s what it means to serve and to protect selflessly.”
The DA also recalled the events of 9-11 and the attack on the World Trade Center in New York. “While everyone was running out, our law enforcement members, our brothers in blue, were running in” in an attempt to save lives, he said. Many perished when the towers collapsed.
And he pointed to other actions by police, noting two Bucks County police officers who recently entered a burning barn in Hilltown Township and rescued a horse from the smoke and flames.
“I’d like to think that if I were put on that spot that I could do it. It’s easy to say it. I don’t know if I could do it. I don’t know if any of us could do it,” said Weintraub. “But our men and women in blue, they do it every day, selflessly, without recognition.
“And they do it because it’s their job,” said Weintraub. “Not for attention. Not for accolades. Not for politics. They do it because they are sworn to protect and serve. We have to thank them. We have to support them. When you see these men and women, I want you to thank them.”
Just moments before Weintraub’s remarks, two officers stopped traffic briefly in front of the Paper Unicorn at State and Main to ask a BLM protester who had taken a knee in the middle of the busy intersection to move to the safety of the sidewalk. The man complied as the officers escorted him out of the street as another protester held his clenched fist in the air in a symbol of solidarity.
Protesters - some from Black Lives Matter and others from Defund the Police - jammed both sides of Main Street chanting back and forth “Black Lives Matter” and “I Can’t Breathe,” a direct reference to George Floyd, who died in police custody as an officer pinned him to the ground, his knee against his neck, on Memorial Day in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Floyd’s public death, captured on video for all the world to see, has sparked outrage throughout the country and support for the Black Lives Matter and Defund the Police movements.
A block away, up at the administration building, people were waving American flags and posing for photographs with officers who were patrolling the area.
Kristine Davies, who organized the Back the Blue rally with Caroline Dutertre, said all officers should not be defined by the actions of one bad officer in Minneapolis.
“There are a ton of people in our community who support our blue,” she said. “We’re thankful for everything they do every single day. They leave their own families, like my husband, and go to work every day never knowing if they’ll come home.”
Davies’ husband joined the US Marine Corps following 9-11. After multiple tours of duty in Iraq, he returned home to become a police officer because he wanted “to help people.
“A ton of men and women from the military are police officers. And that’s why they became officers. They really take that to heart,” she said. “We just want them to know that there are people behind them,” she said of the rally.
The counter protests were organized and held in response to the Back the Blue rally.