POTSDAM, N.Y. (WWNY) - A Back the Blue parade in Waddington last month was St. Lawrence County’s first and it was controversial. Now a second one is planned for Potsdam August 15.
“We want to restore and reinforce the respect and the gratitude that law enforcement and first responders in general they deserve – and that they’ve most importantly earned,” said Joseph Gallagher, Back the Blue parade organizer.
Some Potsdam village trustees have criticized Potsdam police for participating at Waddington because only Republican candidates for office were in the parade and rally.
“That gives the impression that taxpayer dollars and resources are being used to promote particular candidates in a partisan way,” said Alexandra Jacobs Wilke: Potsdam village trustee.
Gallagher said the Back the Blue event planned for Potsdam won’t be that way.
“This is not a partisan effort here and it should not be made that way. This should be one of respect and gratitude,” said Gallagher.
He said it’s open to both parties and it’s not a protest against Black Lives Matter. He said he would welcome that group to participate. Black Lives Matter sees the event differently.
“It’s a push back against people of color and Black Lives fighting for our justice – I don’t think there would be anything with Back the Blue, Blue Lives, anything like that, if Black people did not stand up and start saying, ‘Black Lives Matter,’” said Jennifer Baxtron, Black Lives Matter leader.
She said Black Lives Matter will make its presence known during the parade but will not participate.
The Back the Blue parade and rally in Waddington were not publicized ahead of time. An organizer said that was because they wanted to avoid counter protesters.
In Potsdam, organizers have now announced their Back the Blue event a week-and-a-half ahead.
Gallagher plans to meet with Potsdam Mayor Reinhold Tischler Wednesday to discuss logistics for the event.