Every night, Kay Rollins prays for her son, a Fort Worth police officer.
The Azle woman says she has grown more fearful for his safety after Sheriff’s Deputy Darren Goforth was killed while pumping gas in Houston.
“I am very proud of my son, but there is fear, too,” Rollins said. “Our police are here to serve and protect us, and they deserve our respect.”
Rollins was among the hundreds of law enforcement supporters who crowded downtown Fort Worth on Labor Day for the inaugural “Main Street Backs the Blue” rally. Clad in blue, some supporters waved signs that read, “All Lives Matter,” a play on the “Black Lives Matter” campaign.
“There is a war on police officers, and we need to show our support,” said Rollins, waving a sign that read, “My son’s life matters.”
U.S. Rep. Kay Granger, who attended the gathering, urged participants to thank police officers and give them a hug or pat on the back.
“At night, we close our doors and go to bed,” Granger said. “We are safe because of our police officers.”
Organizers Nanette Samuelson and Jason Baldwin came up with the idea for Monday’s rally as a way to show support for law enforcement after the killing of Goforth in Houston. Authorities there have not released a motive but speculated it was because of rising tensions between law enforcement and the black community.
Some rally-goers called the “Black Lives Matter” campaign – which began in the wake of the 2013 acquittal of George Zimmerman in the Florida shooting death of black teenager Trayvon Martin – divisive to local communities. The movement gained momentum last year after the shooting death of teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., and the choking death of Eric Garner in New York City.
There is a Main Street in every town across the United States. This needs to be nationwide.
Organizer Nanette Samuelson
Fort Worth Sgt. Rick Van Houten, president of the Fort Worth Police Officers Association, urged rally-goers to help steer the discussion.
“We know all lives matter,” Van Houten said. “Let’s change the national conversation to ‘Safe Communities Matter.’”
Mayor Betsy Price said Fort Worth police officers should know they have the community’s respect and support.
“They are heroes. When we retreat from danger, they are the ones who go in,” Price said. “I pray daily for the police officers and their families who are sacrificing just alike.”
Samuelson, one of the organizers, said she hopes Fort Worth’s rally catches on across the country.
“There is a Main Street in every town across the United States,” she said. “This needs to be nationwide.”