CLEVELAND– About 200 people gathered in Cleveland’s Public Square Saturday morning to show their support for the city’s police officers. Sea of Blue Cleveland started holding rallies in 2014 to draw attention to the unnecessary deaths of on- duty police officers.
“It just seems like they are coming faster and more often now and we just want the families to know that we haven’t forgotten the sacrifice of their loved ones and we want them, the officers currently serving, and retired to know that we still support every effort that they make,” said Mary Jo Graves, a dispatcher who comes from a long family line of law enforcement.
Saturday was also the first time water bubbled out of the fountain in the center of Public Square. The family of Cleveland Police Officer David Fahey, who was killed while directing traffic last year, turned the water on in honor of Fahey.
“I go out and I remember that my brother when he would go to work, he gave it every ounce that he had of himself into it and I need to continue that,” said Chris Porter, Fahey’s brother, who is also a police officer.
In 2018 alone, more than 35 law enforcement officers have been killed in the line of duty around the country. Graves says she started Sea of Blue to show their families they are not forgotten.
She also wants to send a message to the people who criticize police. Graves says the public shouldn’t expect officers to be perfect.
“There are mistakes that are going to be made but until you take that split second to decide whether it’s your life or someone else’s, nobody is ever going to understand what they go through on a daily basis,” Graves said.
Officer Fahey’s mother, Jackie Ketterer, is a retired police officer.
“The biggest thing that people don’t understand is the fear that families have for their loved ones. I’m a retired officer, my sons a current officer, and I’m just a fearful when he goes to work now, probably a little more so, that it’s a thankless job,” Ketterer said.
The group held blue flags and American flags and marched through the streets of downtown Cleveland. Among them was 14-year-old Makenna Selak, whose father has been a police officer for 22 years and works in Cleveland.
“I am very proud of my dad I think it’s amazing and especially how people are going against him and he’s still sticking with it and trying his best and doing his best to protect everybody I think it’s amazing,” Selak said.
Officers and their families say they sometimes feel like they are the targets of violence because of their profession. There is currently a bill working its way through the Ohio Statehouse that would increase the penalties for attacks on all first responders and retired first responders.