Vargas: Peaceful gathering for supporters of law enforcement scores a touchdown

By Joe Vargas

On Sunday I took a break from the football playoffs to attend the Support Law Enforcement Peaceful Gathering rally at Anaheim City Hall. The rally was organized on social media with the help of Tammy Santangelo, an Anaheim resident and self-described supporter of law enforcement. It wasn’t her first try at this. A few months ago, Santangelo organized a rally attended by more than 150 people in Los Angeles.

Tammy told me as a volunteer with the Police Activities Leagues in Los Angeles she has seen the positive things police officers do for their communities every day. She found it distressing to see the negative portrayal of cops day after day in the mainstream media so she decided to start doing something about it. Her first attempt at a rally was in December in Los Angeles.

People gather at Anaheim City Hall for a Support for Law Enforcement Rally and march down Center Street Promenade.

Brooklyn Helper, 6, marches down Center Street Promenade with her mother, Monica Mora, a Los Angeles police officer, in Anaheim on Sunday. Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Sunday’s rally was attended by 52 people who stood in front of Anaheim City Hall. In the mix of attendees were residents, off-duty police officers and even Mayor Tom Tait. The attendees enthusiastically held signs and cheered to the sounds of honking horns. and on more than one occasion the jeers and taunts of passing motorists waving with just one finger.

Makes you wonder how challenging times have become when supporting law enforcement makes you the subject of taunts and ridicule.

Tammy said she is aware of the detractors but really has no concern. She said she has no political agenda or issue. She and the attendees just wanted to demonstrate their appreciation for the good job police officers do every day. She plans on more rallies in the future throughout Southern California.

People gather at Anaheim City Hall for a Support for Law Enforcement Rally and march down Center Street Promenade.

Lisa Lujan, front left, and Yamileth Martinez, a federal officer based in Los Angeles, second from right, join the crowd. Photo: Steven Georges

Charles Jarusek, a retired Santa Ana police officer, was out holding his sign and giving a thumbs up to passing cars.

“I need to be out here and let people know not everyone is against the police,” he explained.

Keith Olsen, a longtime Anaheim resident and community activist, explained why he came by:

“The anti-cop protests are promoted, supported and represented by groups and individuals with self-promoting agendas and often they are from outside our community. Pro-cop events are (for) local residents whose only agenda is wanting a safe place to live, and these kinds of events are a way to support the police officers who help them in that effort.”

Approximately fifty people march down Center Street Promenade during a Support for Law Enforcement Rally Sunday afternoon in Anaheim. Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

After a few hours, the crowd broke up and headed home for the day. As I left the area a small group of counter-demonstrators showed up. Thankfully, they arrived too late to engage in any type of confrontation.

I have to applaud the people who showed up on an NFL playoff weekend to attend the rally. For those whose passion motivated them to stand out holding a sign for a few hours on a beautiful Sunday afternoon, all I can say is thank you from the men and women in blue. Your efforts are greatly appreciated.

 Joe is a retired Anaheim Police Department captain. You can reach him at jvargas@behindthebadgeoc.com

Photo: Steven Georges

Photo: Steven Georges

People gather at Anaheim City Hall for a Support for Law Enforcement Rally and march down Center Street Promenade.

Esther Quintana, left, and Yamileth Martinez, a federal officer based in Los Angeles, display signs in front of Anaheim City Hall on Sunday afternoon. Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC