"Back the Blue" rally

"Back the Blue" rally at Andrew's Park, June 22, 2020 (Reese Gorman, The Transcript)

A “Back the Blue” rally took place Monday night at Andrews Park in support of the Norman Police Department.

Over 200 people were in attendance at the rally organized by Norman resident Sheila Murphy.

Mayor Breea Clark was in attendance at the rally but declined The Transcript’s request for comment.

Murphy said she wanted to bring the community of Norman together to show support for the NPD but also wanted to set aside differences and unify Norman, she said.

After watching the past two City Council meetings that took place, Murphy said she felt “disheartened.”

“I feel like (Norman) was being misrepresented,” Murphy said. “I feel like we have a great community, and we have voices that deserve to be heard. The young people who were at the meeting deserved better justice than what they got, along with the (other) people there, they deserve to have a voice as well. I feel like our City Council could have handled that better.”

Murphy said this rally was an opportunity to show support for the NPD but also a chance to prove that Norman citizens support their community as well, she said.

People who attended the rally were waving “Back the Blue” flags as well as wearing shirts and holding signs in support of the NPD.

“(I’m here) in support of the Norman Police Department,” Norman resident Patti Siglin said. “I feel like they are a community police force, they have the community's best interest at heart and we’re not going to hold a good group of officers accountable for the wrongdoings of one officer.”

Citizens in attendance at the rally voiced their dismay over last week’s city council meeting and the calls to defund the NPD.

“I thought it was a circus,” Norman resident Chris Dragg said. “I thought it was horribly run and completely one-sided.”

Dragg said that he wants to see more support from the City Council for the NPD, he said.

“I would like to see the council back our men and women of law enforcement,” Dragg said. “They are the backbone of this community.”

Police Sgt. Robert Wasoski said the NPD has received tremendous amounts of support from the community since last week’s council meeting, he said.

“Since the City Council meeting last week, we have had a tremendous outpouring of kids bringing signs by and people bringing signs by; in the last week, I’ve been approached by a number of people who come up and just want to say ‘thank you’ for doing your job, it’s just we don't hear that often enough,” Wasoski said. “To hear that after the fact that they cut our budget really means a lot.”

Wasoski said the NPD wants people to tell them what the problem is so they can fix it. Currently the department is trying to figure out where the problem is so police can attempt to fix it, he said.

Even though the NPD got its budget reduced last week, Wasoski said it means a lot to see the citizens of Norman behind the department and supporting officers.

“(The amount of people at this rally) tells us the citizens are behind us,” Wasoski said. “Even though we may have gotten slightly defunded, (this tells us) that the majority of folks believe that we are doing a good job and we’re working a hard job and we’re going to continue to be there for them.”

During the rally, the organizers allowed people in the crowd to come up and voice their opinions and feelings of support toward the NPD.

Reese Gorman

rgorman@normantranscript.com

(405)366-3532

Follow me @reeseg_3

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