Thousands expected at ‘Sea of Blue’ rally in support of police

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CLEVELAND, Ohio -- People can expect a sea of blue in downtown Cleveland Saturday.

Thousands are expected to rally and march in support of Northeast Ohio police officers. The event is in response to recent anti-police demonstrations and the killings of two New York police officers.

Cleveland residents and former police officers streamed into the headquarters of the Cleveland Police Patrolmen's Association Friday, purchasing T-shirts in support of the police.

"They're not bad people and for all the protests going on and everyone saying all the rude and negative comments about the police force, it's wrong, they don't know what they're talking about," said Cleveland resident Valerie Brinkhoff.

"We work for our community, we're about our community, so people have to understand we're out here to protect you...nobody goes to work to say I wanna kill somebody today," said Fannie Guerrido, a former police officer with East Cleveland and Tri-C.

The rally is in response to recent anti-police protests nationwide, including here in Cleveland.

Demonstrators have been angered over several high-profile shootings where white police officers have killed young black males.

That includes the shooting death of 12-year-old Tamir Rice, who was shot and killed by a Cleveland police officer at a west side rec center. Investigators say the officer thought he was pulling a real gun out of his waistband, but it turned out to be an airsoft pistol.

"I find what's happening alarming, we have a society that just doesn't understand there's a rule of law and there's a way to fix it if you don't agree with it," said retired Cleveland police officer Michael Tankersley.

Tankersley retired as a Cleveland police officer last year after 28 years on the force. He disagrees with the tactics of recent protesters.

"It's happening now in a frequency where race-baiting people can take advantage of it....our way is peaceful, it'll be silent, it'll be respectful and that's the way real change happens," he said.

"We need to stand together as a people, not just cops versus civilians," said volunteer Bridget Rubel.

Organizers and volunteers are asking everyone who attends the noon-time rally at Public Square to wear blue. They will then march to the Peace Officers Memorial on Lakeside Avenue.

"Now we can show a lot of support for our officers by saying we stand behind you, we stand behind the law and we're gonna respect it by creating a peaceful rally in silence to honor those who have fallen in the line of duty," Rubel added.

Organizers say although some streets will be closed downtown for the march, they applied for and received a permit from the city.