Thousands rally and ride to 'Back the Blue' in Wayne County
An early morning rain shower did little to damp the enthusiasm of the large crowds who turned out Sunday morning for a "Back the Blue" ride and rally.
Several thousand people gathered at Bullis Park in Macedon to show their support for the law enforcement community. They lined up on motorcycles and in minivans across the park's sprawling fields, many decorated with signs and American flags.
Ken Barnes, a volunteer firefighter from Fairport, said he didn't come to make a political statement, but simply to show his support for police and the work that they do.
"We’re not here to deliver any kind of message," he said. "We just want police officers here and elsewhere to know that we support them and appreciate their service."
Barnes' leather jacket sported the logo of the Red Knights Motorcycle Club, a national organization for firefighters who enjoy riding motorcycles that has several local chapters.
There were dozens of other motorcycle clubs who had turned out in force, and riders who said they had come alone. Among them was Kurt Thomas of Palmyra, who said it was the first event of this type he'd ever attended.
"It's really awful how divided we are in society today, but who could be opposed to showing support for the cops who serve and protect us?" Thomas said. "I know that if I have to call for help, they'll show up, no questions asked."
Others said they were drawn to the rally to counter other protests, including those which have called for defunding the police.
Organizers said they expected eight to ten thousand participants, and the crowds were so large it was hard to get an accurate count. Behind the procession of motorcycles were rows and rows of cars and trucks.
The procession began to leave the park just before 10 a.m., with police leading the way and clearing traffic. The rally traced a path through Wayne County through the town of Ontario and then the villages of Sodus and Newark. The route, some fifty miles in total, was greeted by people waving flags and cheering from the roadside.
So many people were lined up to join the rally that more than an hour passed before the time the first motorcycles left Bullis Park and the last ones departed trailed by a cluster of firetrucks with lights whirling and sirens blaring.
A similar rally took place in Monroe County two weeks ago, and another will be held in Wyoming County on August 30.
Sean Lahman is a watchdog reporter for the Democrat & Chronicle, part of the USA Today Network. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @seanlahman.