by WorldTribune Staff, August 7, 2020
The organizer of a “Back the Blue” rally in Asheville, North Carolina said he was astonished at the large turnout for the Aug. 1 event — especially since it was largely ignored by local officials and media.
Ed Browne said he publicized the event on Facebook and residents “reported about 300 bikers and about the same or more people in cars and trucks took part in the parade” totaling well over 1,000 people, The Asheville Tribune reported.
“As a disabled veteran and concerned citizen, I created the event on Facebook and posted it to several different sites locally to get people to stand up, put the keyboard down and do something that could change the dynamics and morale of our local law enforcement agencies. A few days passed and the event was being circulated and was gaining support on a viral scale locally,” Browne said.
Browne said the “Back the Blue” event (not to be confused with the national group which Browne said his event has no affiliation with) was held to “promote support from the community for our law enforcement officers that stand in the door protecting and serving our communities daily. We want these men and women to know that their communities back them and are willing to stand for them loudly and boldly.”
Browne told the Asheville Tribune he was concerned with the way the event was handled not only by the City of Asheville but by the local news media.
“On July 21 I inquired with Jon Fillman, Community Event Manager, concerning permitting and law enforcement support for the rally and parade. I received a call from Mr. Fillman stating that the city had suspended all outdoor special event permits due to COVID Phase two requirements. Mr. Fillman stated that Asheville Police and Buncombe County Sheriff’s Office could not and would not provide support due to the ongoing dissension within our communities and that they could not support one event over another. At this point I became curious; I checked the Asheville outdoor events calendar. I was surprised to see two events on the calendar issued during the phase two suspension. The BLM Mural and the George Floyd hologram events were scheduled, permitted and on the public calendar, yet the Back the Blue event was denied.”
According to Browne the BLM event was scheduled for July 12 and the other was scheduled for July 29 (The Tribune Papers found commercial filmings of the BLM mural and the George Floyd hologram was on the schedule).
“WLOS was provided a press release for this event and decided not to promote it. On the day of the event, WLOS had a cameraman filming for over an hour, yet the reporter never showed to interview the organizers,” said Browne. “The brief interview by WLOS was conducted by their cameraman, who by the way was agitated that the reporter and colleague never showed up. The coverage and article posted by WLOS was untruthful and misleading, by stating 100 people attended when the actual attendance was well over 1,000 people, contained in over 300 motorcycles and 300 cars.” Browne said he provided aerial footage and pictures as proof of the rally’s size.
He also said that the major local daily newspaper, the Asheville Citizen Times, provided no coverage of the event. ”You have to decide, was this discrimination, a safety decision, or did our event not fit somebody’s narrative.”
Browne went on to noted there were “no incidents, no accidents, and no aggression. The Asheville Back the Blue event wasn’t done. The supporters of law enforcement came together the next day and donated over $1,500 in gift cards, poster boards, letters, paintings and ‘thank you’s’ to be presented to the men and women that serve our communities.”