A few other pro-police signs on display included those that read “America Supports Blue” and “Thank You Police Officers.”

By James Kinneen
Hometown Weekly Reporter

On June 20 of last year, members of the Walpole community gathered for a parade of cars high school outside Police Department headquarters and a rally, with speeches from local politicians, police supporters and former Walpole Police Chief John Carmichael.

This year, on June 26, event organizer Jim Govatsos opted for a much more moderate demonstration of support at Walpole Communal. There was no parade or speech, just music played, pro-police signs held and flags waved along the street for two hours, while passing cars had the chance to honk their horns. approval.

A rally attendant gives a thumbs up to a passing car.

“This day of support to the police in particular, we organized it very quickly, because we were not sure what facilities we could use,” said Gavatsos. “What we did last year took weeks and weeks of coordination. So it was a bit improvised, but we wanted to continue the tradition. It will be an annual tradition to support our local police and law enforcement. We think they are doing a great job and we are just showing our appreciation for a few hours and creating an opportunity for members of the Walpole community to come and show their support.

Gavatsos said that unless some specific opportunity arises, such as the chance to honor a particular policeman, this style of celebration would be the version most likely to continue, because “It seems to work well – the flexibility. is here to let people come last minute and support us.

The majority of the crowd was on Walpole Common, although it occupied all four corners of the street.

A major change from last year was the number of police officers present. Although police did show up, not being in front of the station likely detracted from those numbers – but Gavatsos noted that he had been told in advance that they would be on duty and on the details. , so few people could do it.

While anti-police sentiment appears to have eased since last June, Gavatsos explained the need to show public support for Walpole PD. “I think there are still criticisms and some police forces are being slandered,” he said. “They talk about funding the police in some areas. I am against it. I think we need to show more support for our police.”

A pair wave their “Thin Blue Line” flags across the street.

Gavatsos noted that they had received criticism from people concerned that the event was too close to Juneteeth, but he said the two events had nothing to do with each other and that they had chose June because they liked the tradition they started. last June to continue – and because unlike July and August, in June people are even less likely to have gone on vacation.

However, this decline was not limited to the world of social media. Like last year, one group held “Black Lives Matter” signs (although unlike last year, this one added another that said “support our social workers”). This year’s group, however, was not so close to the event; they admitted that they were not trying to provoke a direct confrontation with the spectators of the police support event. Rather, as Willa Bandler explained, they wanted passers-by “to know that not everyone in this town is like that, and to know that there are people around whom they are safe.” “.

A group that questioned the motives of the rally in support of the police were holding their own signs just down the street.

Bandler explained his case, noting: “We think it’s a bit suspicious that they decided to have this the weekend after Juneteenth. We think they never held any rallies to support the police. until there was a lot of activity to support black people who were afraid of the police, and that makes us think maybe they want black people to continue to be afraid of living in Walpole.

Although the venue has changed, the passionate sense of supporting Walpole Police has remained for the second iteration of what Gavatsos hopes will be an annual tradition.