Back the Blue Rally Calls for Rejection of Police Reform Plan, Met with Counter-Protests

A “Back the Blue” rally held on Sunday, on the Ithaca Commons. Ralliers were there criticizing in full the Reimagining Public Safety Draft Report from the City of Ithaca, and Tompkins County. 

But the afternoon’s affair was met with anti-racist counter-protestors.

The Back the Blue rally was organized by Rocco Lucente Jr.. He stood on the Ithaca Commons Bernie Milton Pavilion, saying that the Reimagining draft report recommendations only served to make Ithaca a more dangerous place. The main criticism is with the report's recommendation to replace the City of Ithaca Police Department with a Community Solutions and Public Safety report.

Lucente doesn’t believe there’s an issue of racism in policing. He said, "I reject the notion that systemic racism exists in policing. I believe when you look at the crime victimization surveys, they line up almost with the arrest record."

The number of counter-protestors just about doubled the number that showed up for the Back the Blue rally. Many of the anti-racist protestors said the Reimaging draft report fell short of defunding the police. The main criticism the counter-protesters have of the Reimaging draft report is that it’s a rebranding.

They have a chant that goes, "No justice, no peace, they just renamed the police."

At the height of the rallly, Back the Blue organizers aimed to burn three flags at the rally: One for Antifa; the Communist Party of China; and a Black Lives Matter Flag.

One anti-racist protestor attempted to grab the flags before Back the Blue organizers could set them ablaze, leading to a haphazard melee between members of both groups. A couple kicks, punches, and a headlock resulted.

No arrests or tickets were issued.

Photo from Julien Sobel.