By Bonnie Adams, Managing Editor
Westborough – Several dozen people gathered in front of the Forbes Municipal building June 20 to hold a peaceful vigil as a way to show support for the town’s police department. Holding signs and American flags, the message many said, was that they wanted to emphasize their support for the Westborough Police Department (WPD) in particular but that their vigil should not be considered a protest against the Black Lives Matter (BLM) rallies being held throughout the country, including in Westborough itself.
Andy Toorock, the organizer of the event, noted that there were two reasons he felt compelled to organize the vigil.
“It’s something that should be done,” he said. “Ninety nine percent [of police officers] are nice people, working hard and doing their jobs.”
“And imagine if we didn’t have police in places like Boston,” he added.
Denzil Drewry, a former selectman, noted that he felt it important as well to come to the gathering and visibly show his support for the WPD.
“I support all police, especially here in Westborough,” he said. “They do an amazing job, putting their lives on the line every day.”
Although several people had noted on a Facebook page that they were against the vigil, only one man showed up to protest.
Robert Shine stood off to the side of the gathering, silently holding a sign that said in part “Abolish Police” and “Black Lives Matter.”
He decided to attend the event as a protest, he said, because he felt the “Blue Lives Matter” (in support of police) was an unnecessary response to the Black Live Matter protests. Showing support for the police was a way, he said, that did not acknowledge police brutality and systemic racism.
“Law enforcement has failed and we need to think of new ways to fund police departments,” he said.
Tari Shea said she and her husband Tom came out to show their thanks for the Westborough police.
“We have had many encounters with them and they have always been kind and professional,” she said. “They are the best.”
Laura Doherty noted that although she decided to come to the event, she was supportive of the police and the BLM movement.
“I think you can support both,” she said. “It’s not about choosing one side over the other. Both are important and should not be at odds with each other.”