EDWARDSVILLE — About 30 people gathered in a parking lot next to the Madison County Courthouse Wednesday to celebrate the county board tabling a so-called “Blue Lives Matter” resolution.
While the abstract resolution did not give police any additional power or tangible reward, it received significant pushback from community members. Many activists said it was inherently racist and sent a degrading message to the Black Lives Matter movement by repurposing the movement’s name and positioning it as in opposition to police.
The resolution was sent back to the committee at Wednesday’s board meeting, and its name and language are set to be altered.
”Messages still matter,” said Eden Vitoff, 23, of Edwardsville, who helped organize the rally and sponsored a petition opposing the resolution that garnered more than 1,000 signatures. “This resolution was a pushback to the call for justice we need to see in Madison County.”
The “Blue Lives Matter” resolution did not directly name the Black Lives Matter movement, but it referenced “a recent level of civil unrest across our nation that is inflamed by anarchist groups and their supporters.”
Protests erupted in the St. Louis area and across the nation this summer and fall after the deaths of several Black people at the hands of police, including George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Jacob Blake.
Board member Donald Moore, a Republican, said he created the resolution in support of officers in the county.
“NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the County Board of Madison County, Illinois, declares their support for all police officers that protect our families, our friends and our neighbors against those groups that endanger us all by spreading chaos, encouraging civil unrest and destroying our communities in an effort to weaken our democracy,” the resolution read.
Moore acknowledged the language was harsh and that he has not heard of any violence associated with protests in Madison County. Since receiving feedback from the board and community, he said he revised the resolution to take out the word “anarchist” and replace “Blue Lives Matter” with law enforcement.
“I feel because of all the social unrest across this country and what police have to put up with, I just want police to know the people of Madison County still support them,” Moore said. “What’s wrong with saying, ‘I support the police?’”
Michael Parkinson, a Democrat and the only police officer on the board, said he thought the resolution was divisive and a case of bad timing.
“Language like this is political rhetoric, and it’s not that meaningful or going to do much for police,” said Parkinson, a member of the Granite City Police Department. “If we want to do stuff to help the police, let’s start funding mental health. Those are the things that will help officers today because we’ve become the crisis workers for the mental health, and those are the things that put officers in jeopardy.”
At the beginning of Wednesday’s meeting, a representative read several comments from residents who opposed the resolution.
Later in the meeting, Moore mentioned that he thought board members were giving in to public perception and that if they had concerns about the resolution, it could have been voted down initially in the public safety committee before it was put on Wednesday’s agenda.
“We do support the Black Lives Matter movement and police officers here in Madison County. It was not something that needed to be said,” said board member Michael ‘Doc’ Holliday Sr., also a Democrat.
As for the protest, Holliday said, “Evidently the powers-that-be are listening to them.”
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