With signs that read “defend the police,” a group of about 80 people waved American flags on the corner of Valencia Boulevard and McBean Parkway during a pro-law enforcement rally in Santa Clarita on Friday.
The demonstration marked the fourth of its kind in the last couple months, in response to Black Lives Matter protests that took place following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis on Memorial Day. BLM rallies have called for defunding the police, a nationwide movement pushing for the reallocation or redirection of funds from police departments to other local government agencies.
Friday’s rally aimed to flip that message, organizers Ed, Art and Andrew said, who declined to provide their last names.
“Our whole goal is to be able to change the narrative from the negative to the positive, and just be able to show the support that yes, law enforcement is needed to protect our communities,” said Andrew.
The removal of funds from law enforcement agencies is dangerous, said Art, a former field lieutenant with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Special Victims Bureau, who pointed to fears that the county’s approved massive budget cuts could result in the elimination of LASD’s Special Victims Bureau, which handles cases involving the sexual and physical abuse of children, rape and human trafficking.
“That’s going to hurt,” he said.
Some cities and school districts in the county have discussed looking into a new emergency response model where trained, unarmed specialists or counselors should respond rather than law enforcement to reduce police interactions. But Contessa Mendoza, a San Fernando Valley resident and counselor at the rally said the approach “is wrong.”
“They can never replace an officer. (Counselors) can definitely accompany in school situations and in domestic disputes but never alone,” she said.
The demonstration comes as the county Board of Supervisors approved Tuesday a motion to place a county charter amendment on the November ballot, but LASD Alex Villanueva said the measure, if approved, would amount to “defunding” the Sheriff’s Department.
Friday’s organizers said they plan to hold additional rallies in the coming weeks.