MADISON (WKOW) – A crowd filled the space around the law enforcement memorial, on Capitol Square, for what organizers called a “peaceful gathering” in support of local law enforcement officers.
“Police are the thin, blue line between chaos and order,” said one of the organizers to a cheering crowd.
Those who attended Wednesday's gathering said the message to Madison Police, and other local law enforcement officials, was simple. They wanted to say thank you.
“I just think it's very important to support the Madison Police Department at this time, in the wake of everything that's been happening,” said Ron Torrisi.
Sandra Barcheski's husband is a police officer. She said police and their families appreciate the outpouring of support.
“It's the most unappreciated job there is out there,” Barcheski said. “You do what you have to do, and no matter what, there's always going to be someone unhappy with you.”
“Officers put their life on the line everyday for everyone, no matter who trusts them or what happens,” Barcheski said. “They risk not coming home to their families. That's hard.”
Barcheski said the recent shooting of unarmed teenager Tony Robinson by a police officer should not reflect badly on law enforcement as a whole.
“They get in to help people,” Barcheski said. “Bottom line: they want to help. They're here to help and protect.”
Robinson was shot by officer Matt Kenny after police allege the teen assaulted him.
The state department of justice is investigating the shooting per a new law requiring officer-involved deaths to be investigated by independent agencies.
Robinson's family members have said they are not anti-police. But they said they expect a fair investigation.
Lois Gilbert said she's afraid anti-police sentiment among the public will translate to officers having less confidence on the job, and in the public to back their decision making.
“I'm afraid that, some day, people won't want to go to school to become a police officer anymore,” Gilbert said.
Gilbert attended Wednesday's gathering with her husband, Steve, who's brother is a customs and border patrol agent.
“Hopefully police will see that there are a lot of people who support them in doing their jobs,” Gilbert said. “That's why we're here.”
MADISON (WKOW) – A group called “We Stand With the Madison Police Department” says it will hold a peaceful rally on Capitol Square Wednesday in support of local law enforcement officers.
In a statement released by the group Wednesday morning on Facebook, it says “we want to stay behind the scenes, as this is about the men and women in law enforcement and to show they have our support.”
The statement also reads, in part, “With tensions being high in the Madison area and current anti-police sentiments being publicized by certain factions of our community, we thought it was time to make it known that there are many people who value and appreciate our law enforcement officers.”
“The purpose of our peaceful gathering... is to raise public awareness of and appreciation for our law enforcement servants,” the statement say. “We hope it will also give all area law enforcement officers the moral support they need to persevere in their duties amidst the current, high level of anti-police sentiment and public criticism of policing in general.”