Even though the temperature was more than 100 degrees, a group of more than 20 Porterville locals gathered in front of the Porterville Police Department (PPD) on Friday evening to show there support for local law enforcement personnel and to let them know they’ve “got their six.”
“I Got Your Six became significant in World War II,” said Amy Carpenter who spoke to the crowd on Friday evening. “The pilots would indicate to one another ‘I got your six,’ as in your 6 o’clock position, I have your back. That’s why we’re here today. We want to let law enforcement know that we’ve got your back. It’s got to be very difficult putting that badge on every day and come to work feeling unappreciated. But I’m here out of the community, as all these people are for you, and we’ve got your six.”
Many of the people who joined in on the support rally carried signs expressing their support for PPD, and the other local law enforcement agencies. A California Highway Patrol officer, multiple PPD officers, and the Tule River Tribal Police Chief were in attendance.
“On behalf of Chief (Eric) Kroutil and the Porterville Police Department, we really, really thank you guys for your support,” said PPD officer Jake Castellow. “We’ve seen a great outpouring from the community and we can’t thank you enough. We really, really appreciate it, so thank you.”
Tule River Police Chief Joe Campos also shared his gratitude for the outpouring of support from the community.
“I want to show you what it’s like to be a law enforcement officer but it would take forever,” said Campos. “It would actually disturb some people. It’s great to know that we have a relationship with Porterville PD, the Sheriff’s Department and the other PD’s in the area. We do have to count on each other in numerous occasions. Porterville PD has always helped us out with our issues and whenever we’ve needed help. The thing I hope most of you take out of this today is that not only are we, the departments, involved and responsible for the community, but you as citizens are also. This is a start, this is a beautiful start, to show support for these people who are trying to better the community. I thank all of you for that support and hope you become more involved with your PD.”
Leonard Manuel Jr., whose daughter Tsontelle Manuel helped to organize the rally, said a prayer for the officers and the community during the rally. He also expressed why it’s important for the community to support their law enforcement personnel.
“Today we are here to celebrate what law enforcement does for everybody,” said Manuel Jr. “We all remember the lives of the two young men that were taken not too long ago. We need a lot of prayers today for the people, for law enforcement and for our community. The men (and women) who put themselves on the line for us, they see terrible things that take place in our world. 24 hours a day, they are called upon to be of service. And that’s why we’re here today, to be of service, to let them know that we care about them.”
Tsontelle Manuel also spoke to the group of community members and law enforcement personnel, and shared why she thought it was important for the rally to take place in the midst of the largest civil rights movement in history. She wanted the people who felt they should stay silent, to have a voice in the movement too.
“I felt it was important for all of us to get together,” said Manuel. “I know a lot of people feel like they need to be silent right now and that our voices cannot be heard. I know a lot of people are receiving backlash for sticking up for what we believe in, and that’s having law enforcement’s back. I just want to let you guys know that you’re not alone. For you to speak up, you’re not by yourself. This is a strong, beautiful community right here, and we are showing our strength. We are showing our support for our law enforcement and that’s what’s really important. Today, our voices are being taken down and we aren’t able to speak because if we do, we’re considered racist, part of the problem or other numerous racial slurs. I’ve received it and I don’t feel like it’s right. I’m here to let all of you have your voices and to speak up. We shouldn’t be afraid of having our voices heard, and for protecting our law enforcement who protect us day in and day out.”
As the group shared their support for law enforcement, one protester stood across the street from the PPD holding a sign that read “Black Lives Matter” on one side and “God Hates Cops” on the other. While this protestor was the only one showing direct opposition to the rally, one man who drove by honked his horn and gave his middle finger to the group as he drove by.
Manuel promptly waved both protesters off, saying it was okay for them to have their voices too. She said she plans to have at least a couple more support rallies for law enforcement in the future.