Hundreds attend ‘Back the Blue’ rally in downtown Rockford

Local News

ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — At least 1,000 attendees of a pro-police rally in downtown Rockford were met by anti-police protesters Saturday morning.

Rep. John Cabello (R-68th) and former Rep. Jim Sacia (R-89th) spoke at an “Illinois Back the Blue” rally in Rockford today.

Cabello was a former Rockford Police Detective; Sacia served 28 years as a FBI special agent in Rockford before serving 11 years as an Illinois State Representative.

The groups Concerned Citizens for America of Northern Illinois and the Illinois Family Institute held the rally at the Winnebago County Justice Center, at 650 W. State Street.

In a press release, the organization said the rally was intended “To support all men and women in law enforcement and the amazing, vital, and dangerous work they do to protect our communities and country from lawlessness and evil.”

At least one counter-protester was arrested at Saturday’s demonstration.

This comes following several demonstrations by anti-police protest groups in Rockford, the most recent of which was Friday night.

About 20 protesters blocked East State Street near the Rockford City Market Pavilion. City Market had been canceled due to the protester’s planned activity.

For the past month market-goers have been met by those protesters. Several vendors told Eyewitness News they do not feel save while doing business and say the disruptions were keeping people away.

There were some tense moments as drivers attempted to make their way through the area. Rockford Police and Winnebago County Sheriff’s deputies moved in to help drivers get past.

Nine protesters, five women and four men, were eventually taken into custody.

In response, the group Rockford Youth Abolitionists announced they would be demonstrating at the “Back the Blue” rally.

“We are standing in solidarity with protesters arrested yesterday at a nonviolent protest and against the fascist police state. RYA condemns the actions of law enforcement as well as the white supremacist rally happening,” the group said in a statement.

Following the rally, protesters moved to the District 1 headquarters and then clashed the other group on the grounds of the Winnebago County Justice Center as they were disbanding, drawing a large police response. Pepper spray was used to disperse the crowd and several people were detained.

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