East Tennesseans ‘Back the Blue,’ pray for law enforcement

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MARYVILLE (WATE) – East Tennesseans gave hugs, cards, and snacks to local law enforcement on Monday, a day deemed “Back the Blue” by a grassroots movement. It’s an effort to show support to officers in the wake of recent tragedies.

Two groups made deliveries on Monday and one of the most important things they have officers couldn’t be seen.Previous story:Maryville prepares for “We Back the Blue” day

“Thank you for keeping us safe and coming to schools and teaching us safety lessons,” read Nathan Crawford, 12, from a card he gave an officer.

Cards like that, big and small, went home with officers at the Blount County Sheriff’s Office on Monday. Cpl. Brad Butler received a small homemade bracelet from one child.

“It says, ‘Us,’ and that means we’re all together. I love my job, I love this community and I’ll continue standing up for this community,” said Cpl. Butler.

People who are part of this movement are hope officers carry cards with a prayer as they go out into the community.

“We want the officers to be reminded through this card, through this prayer, that with God’s strength, they have the courage they need to do what they need to do. To stay positive in a job that is hard, it’s difficult,” said Back the Blue organizer Ashley Shepherd.

“I have a prayer for every situation we have. If we’re en route to a call, I have a prayer. When I get up, when I get home,” added Cpl. Butler.

A prayer wrapped up Monday afternoon’s roll call at the Knox County Sheriff’s Office, led by Heather West. “Dear heavenly Father, we just ask you for this day, thank you for these men and these women who sacrifice their lives every day. Thank you so much for what they do for us, protecting us and serving us. Dear Lord we just want to encourage them right now and thank you and lift them up to you in your name I pray, amen.”

“Just keep praying for us and thank you for everything,” said Cpl. Butler.

Back the Blue organizers say they hope the community continues this kindness throughout the year. They’re even carrying cards around in case they meet an officer.

Roane County prayer vigil

A prayer and candlelight vigil were held Monday night at Roane State Community College in Harriman.

Roane County NAACP president Joseph Eskridge worked with Roane County Commission Chair Ron Berry to help put this event together. They say with all the unfortunate tragedies that have happened across the country, it was time for Roane County to pause for peace with open eyes and hearts.

“We’re united and strong here in Roane County. We just want to be able to get along peaceful with each other,” said Eskridge.

“I feel that anytime a community our size is united we’re stronger,” said Berry.

Getting together wasn’t just about unity with police but unity with everyone, including firefighters and other first responders.

“We’re going to try to show the rest of east Tennessee that Roane County truly is strong,” said Berry.

To close the vigil, everyone gathered outside in a circle to light candles.

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