Thousands turn out for 'Sea of Blue' rally supporting police in Cleveland

A crowd estimated at more than 2,000 gathered in downtown Cleveland, rallying to support police in that city and everywhere.

That gathering then made their way in silence to the Police Memorial a few blocks away. The crowd was asked to keep silent to honor the fallen NYPD officers.

More than 2,000 people stood behind Barbara Owens as she silently kissed her son's name that is etched into a memorial for slain police officers.

Owens — whose son Derrick was a Cleveland police officer when he was killed chasing drug dealers on March 1, 2008 — was among the some 2,500 people who showed up Saturday at the Sea of Blue rally to support police. 

"We're thankful to see all the people that came out," said Derrick Owens father, Wayne. "I know they're not all out here for my son, but I personalize it. It feels good."  

The rally on Saturday was organized to contrast nationwide unrest over fatal police shootings, including the Nov. 22 shooting of 12-year-old Tamir Rice at Cudell Recreation Center by a rookie Cleveland police officer.  

People wearing blue to support the police enveloped Public Square on Saturday. The group silently marched to the Greater Cleveland Peace Officers Memorial across on Lakeside Boulevard and West 3rd Street.

Some carried signs that said "All lives matter" and "Police lives matter." 

About 20 members of the group CLEdemands formed a counter-protest across the street from the Sea of Blue rally.

"It's a love campaign," said protester Dylan Sellers. "We're here because of the lives lost in the struggle. This is a silent march. We're not engaging the other group."

Three family members of slain police officers spoke at the event, including the fiancée of Akron police officer Justin Winebrenner, who was fatally shot on Nov. 16 while shoving a gunman from a bar as the man fired shots. The couple was supposed to marry in June.

"I was next to him" when he was shot, Tiffany Miller said. "He saved my life, among many others, on that dreadful night."

Miller said she felt guilt and grief over Winebrenner's death. 

"But today I feel a different emotion," she said. "Today I feel proud."

A lot of second guessing went on following the shootting death of a teenager who was waving around a toy gun in a Cleveland park. The police released a surveillance video showing the young man was shot by police about 2 seconds after they arrived on the scene. Since the incident occurred at the time of protests against the Ferguson and Staten Island grand jury decisions, the tragedy recieved far more attention than it probably deserved.

But only living cops can be second guessed. Under different circumstances, one or both responding police officers might have lost their lives if they hesitated.But in this atmosphere of anti-cop hysteria, these arguments are lost in a sea of hate directed against the police.

The example set by the people of Cleveland should be repeated across the country. If the politicians won't have the backs of the cops, we should let them know that we do.

If you experience technical problems, please write to