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Simultaneous Demonstrations in Support of Police and BLM

More than 100 people lined the sidewalks outside Macomb City Hall to demonstrate they back local police. A few other people also demonstrated outside the building in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.

The law enforcement demonstrators held signs reading “We support our local law enforcement,” and “We support Chief Barker” (Macomb Police Chief Curt Barker.)

Across Jackson Street from City Hall, Leslie and John Trone sat in lawn chairs with a sign backing law officers.

“We’re supporting our local law enforcement, and everybody should.  Our law enforcement around Macomb is very reliable,” said Leslie Trone before her husband finished her thought.

“Very reliable. Very fair,” John Trone said. “They’ve done a good job with everything they’ve had to work with and we support them 100%.”

The Trones said they have been married for 60 years. John Trone said they have lived in and around Macomb their entire lives and have never had a problem with the local police.

Dave Hunt of Blandinsville said the turnout reflected the value the community places on its local law officers and first responders.

“They have been putting their lives on the line for years so it’s a show of support for them,” Hunt said.

A few steps down the sidewalk, at the corner of Jackson and Campbell, Michael Thompson waved a small American flag and held a sign that read “No one is above the law.”

Credit Rich Egger
Michael Thompson said society should support first responders. But he believes there are too many police in this area. Four agencies are based in Macomb – the city police department, the county sheriff department, Illinois State Police, and WIU campus police.

Thompson said, “Our president thinks he’s above the law. Our Congress thinks they’re above the law. And a few police officers think they’re above the law. I believe in the law, and if everybody adheres to the law – especially the officers – then that’s good.”

Thompson, who wore a Black Lives Matter t-shirt, said he does not think police should be defunded.  But he does believe some funding could be shifted to social services.

“We should stop making the police be social workers. A lot of the calls, police aren’t needed,” Thompson said.

“Someone who’s understanding of someone with a mental illness, or a marital dispute, there’s a lot more ways we could be serving the community than sending armed officers to every situation.”

Thompson said he can support law enforcement as long as they’re willing to support the Black Lives Matter movement. “We just want a more fair and just society,” he said.

About a half dozen other Black Lives Matter demonstrators stood on the lawn outside City Hall with signs reading “Black Lives Matter” and “We want safety, justice, compassion, equality for our Black community.”

Meanwhile, inside City Hall, Chief Barker explained to the city council how police will handle complaints about the department.

He said details are outlined in a brochure.  Barker said it will be available at the police department and at City Hall to help guide people through the process and explain how the system works.

“If you make a complaint with us, we will look into it,” the chief said.

Barker also told the city council he reviews every complaint that comes in to the police department. He said complaints about potentially criminal actions by a police officer are turned over to the Illinois State Police, who conduct the investigation.

This story was produced by Tri States Public Radio.  TSPR relies on financial support from our readers and listeners in order to provide coverage of the issues that matter to west central Illinois, southeast Iowa, and northeast Missouri. As someone who values the content created by TSPR's news department please consider making a financial contribution.

Rich is TSPR's News Director.