1,000-plus join ride in Orleans County to ‘Back the Blue’
Photos by Tom Rivers
HOLLEY – A motorcyclist gives a fist of support to acknowledge the crowd that lined the Public Square in Holley just after noon for a “Back the Blue” ride in Orleans County. The man looks up and was impressed by the sight of a large American flag hanging over Route 31.
There were more than 1,000 vehicles in the ride, with about two thirds of them motorcyclists.
Click here to see a short video of the some of the motorcycles passing under the giant American flag on Route 31 in Holley.
Holley and Clarendon held up a 20-by-30-foot American flag for the ride, which was 25 minutes from the first to the last vehicles in Holley.
The ride started at noon in Murray at Light House Lake Construction,3823 County Line Rd. in Murray. The group then embarked on a 52-mile journey down Route 31 from Holley to Albion to Medina, then north on Route 63 to Ridge Road, then from Ridgeway to Gaines to Murray, and ending where they started.
Organizers said the ride was to show support law enforcement, firefighters, EMS, hospital workers and U.S. military.
Jim McMurray, a truck driver from Canandaigua and a former Albion resident, rode in his fifth “Back the Blue” event today. The 74-year-old said many of the motorcyclists “are fed up with the ways things are going in the country.”
He doesn’t like to see violence and property damage at protests, and believes the police are being unfairly faulted.
He believes the presence of a 1,000 of more participants in the rides sends a strong message to the community, the law enforcement officers and other first responders.
“There’s satisfaction in supporting local police departments and fire departments,” he said.
Many of the motorcycles and vehicles were decorated with pro-police messages, including American flags with a blue stripe. There were also a lot of Donald Trump signs and flags.
McMurray said the group didn’t identify as a “Pro-Trump crowd” but rather as a “Pro-America crowd.”
Marie DeFilipps of Holley takes a video of the ride while watching from Route 31 with her children, Jake and Gianna, and Marie’s mother, Christine. Marie’s husband is Orleans County Deputy Jim DeFilipps. She said the long line of riders and drivers was very moving.
“It was very heartfelt,” she said.
Fran Gaylord and other firefighters from Holley, Clarendon and Fancher-Hulberton-Murray stood together to watch the procession.
“We’re all one team,” said Holley firefighter Kevin Dann, as he watched the motorcyclists and vehicles ride through the Public Square in Holley. “We support them and they support us. We’re all one big family.”
The motorcyclists carried American flags that stood out in the bright sunshine.
These two take in the sight of a supportive crowd in Holley’s Public Square.
A.P. Enterprises from Ontario NY brought in some big trucks for the ride. Orleans County Sheriff Chris Bourke, Undersheriff Mike Mele and State Trooper Kevin Bentley provided an escort for the ride.
This Jeep is ready for the ride. It is at the staging area for the vehicles. There are hundreds of motorcycles in back.
Gordy King of Irondequoit adds blue tape to his Jeep to show his support for law enforcement in the ride.
“They want to defund the police,” King said. “If that happens I don’t know who you’re going to turn to if they break into your house.”
One of King’s friends who rode with him is a social worker in Monroe County. The social worker, who declined to give his name, said law enforcement officers are asked to do much more than police work these days. He said they need training in responding to people in a mental health crisis and should avoid lethal force, including using bullets that wound but don’t kill.
But Paul said some protestors are way out of line in endangering police officers, and throwing fireworks at them.
“Of course we need some police reform, but I don’t support the language,” he said. “Don’t threaten them.”
Vendors sold signs, flags and other merchandise in support of law enforcement, and also for President Trump.
Jim Freas of Medina, left, and Tinker Young of Lyndonville both rode in the event. They are both Vietnam War veterans and law enforcement backers.
“I am here to support the police,” Freas said.
A few bad officers have tarnished the profession. But overwhelmingly, Freas said, officers do the right thing and serve their communities.
Young said it is difficult to watch the news and see the confrontations at protests.
“I back law enforcement across the board,” he said. “There are only a few bad apples. The anarchists are using this as an excuse to tear this country apart.”
This message was added to the window on of the vehicles in the ride.