A rally to express support for the Bedford Police Department has been scheduled for the Town Common on Friday, Sept 11, from 3 to 6 p.m. The event was announced on Facebook by longtime resident Geoff Chase, with some 250 invitees, and organizers encouraged them to spread the word.
“The main reason we chose 9-11 was we want people to remember who the heroes are,” said Chase, referring to the terrorist attacks in New York City and Washington, DC on Sept. 11, 2001. “Police and firefighters were the people who made the sacrifices.”
Chase explained that the event will end at 6 p.m. so as not to overlap with the weekly demonstration in support of Black lives, which has been taking place on the Common beginning at that time for the past several weeks.
Indeed, organizers of both events have spoken with each other at length, and plan to continue to talk to ensure that there is no overlap or tension.
Chase said there is no formal program planned. “There will be signs supporting our officers. We just want the town to realize that we have some fantastic law enforcement officers in the community. They really care about keeping this town safe and making it welcoming.” The three-hour duration will accommodate participants who can’t arrive as early as 3, he explained.
A 1993 Bedford High School graduate, Chase said he got to know several current members of the police force as a teenager. “These guys have been here since I was in high school. We would see them at different events and they got to know everybody.”
“Police in general are being portrayed very negatively, and that takes a toll on them here,” he observed, “They see the anger and hostility across the country. Some of the guys might be down, and we really need to show them support.”
The police support group notified the town manager’s office of the plans last week. It has not been the town’s practice to require “freedom of speech” events like this to obtain a permit or comply with state limits on the size of gatherings.
The ownership of the Common is shared between the town and the First Parish Church, and the Rev. John Gibbons, aware of the possible confluence of the two events, mediated a discussion between organizers of both.
Chase remarked that he can see no reason why people can’t support each cause. “There’s no issue of overlap. This is a really tight community and people should remember how important the police are.”
Mark Bailey, one of the organizers of the weekly demonstrations, said he appreciates the coordination between the organizers. “Although some folks have aggressively confronted us at times, the outpouring of support has greatly outweighed these disappointing incidents. I am hopeful that we can have a peaceful transition from one event to the other. We will continue to meet on the common every Friday to remind our community that Black lives do matter.”