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Locals rally around law enforcement

Posted 7/12/16 (Tue)

Locals rally around law enforcement

By Jack Dura
Farmer Staff Writer

It was a coincidence that Jenni-Rose Kirchoff and Moreen Degenhart’s Watford City Roller Derby shirts were black with blue letters at a downtown police rally last Sunday in Watford City
“It seemed very fitting,” Kirchoff said of the shirts’ design, adding that attending the rally “seemed like the right thing to do with everything that’s been going on.”
In the wake of a sniper killing five police in Dallas and shooting several more following the shooting deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile at the hands of police in Louisiana and Minnesota last week, Watford City Police Foundation volunteer Will Maguire took to social media to initiate a rally to show support for local law enforcement.
“Just to see the current events happening and the amount of scrutiny that our men and women in blue are under, I feel like they need support from their communities,” Maguire said.
The rally began at noon Sunday, July 10, with 14 people walking from the Watford City Police Department to the corner of Main Street and Third Avenue Northeast.
The supporters held signs and waved at passing vehicles, many of which honked their horns in support, including a sheriff’s vehicle.  
“This event isn’t about one side or the other,” Maguire said, touching on movements like Black Lives Matter and All Lives Matter. “All lives matter to me and every law enforcement officer that steps into that uniform believes the same thing.”
Eric Homer participated in the rally, painting pallets black and blue with spray painted messages touting “Back the Blue.”
The pallets began long before Sunday’s rally.
“We started when everybody started getting charged at the sheriff’s department,” Homer said. “We wanted to really show our support.”
Pallets went out prior to Corporal Travis Bateman’s mid-June trial for reckless endangerment, which ended in acquittal.
More pallets will go out in August for McKenzie County Sheriff Gary Schwartzenberger’s hearing for a charge of misapplication of entrusted property, Homer added.
Homer said Maguire’s call for a rally on Facebook “piqued (my) interest,” and he’s made about 30 signs from pallets for the Watford City area so far.
Jennifer Jensen attended the rally with her son Evan. She calls herself a “blue wife” since she married Watford City Police Officer Jeffrey Jensen.
“Just worrying about whether he’s going to come home at night is seriously the hardest thing,” she said in the shadow of the police station Sunday afternoon, out of the hot, bright sky.
“I think it’s wonderful we’re here supporting our local officers in this difficult time,” she added.
Maguire said he was astonished and amazed at the online reaction to his call, but not surprised.
A recent car show fundraiser brought in nearly $1,000 for the Watford City Police Foundation, Maguire said. Nearly 200 people turned out for the event as well.
The foundation also raised $14,000 for the Blue Santas in November and December, Maguire added, saying he hopes to get more people involved in the group.
The foundation looks to hold events to interact out of uniform with the community, Maguire said, hopefully to hold coffee and other social events.
“I think it’s an amazing thing that they’re doing,” he added.
Sunday’s rally lasted into the late afternoon after participants walked around downtown, stopping outside Meyer’s Department Store and Big Boy’s Toys.
Maguire said he hopes the rally can inspire other similar events in surrounding counties and across the state for law enforcement on all levels.
“They just need the support of the community,” he said. “Watford City’s a very strong supporter of the men and women in blue.”