MARION, Iowa — A “Back the Blue“ rally set for Saturday in Marion is drawing criticism from Black Lives Matters advocates.
Marion resident Gage West is organizing the rally.
"I’ve been called a racist, a white supremacist—I’m organizing a white supremacist rally,” West said. "It’s hard for them to come at me like that when I do support their lives."
The rally is to show support for police and military, West said.
He cites protests around the country surrounding police brutality.
"Supporting police is not a bad thing. The Marion Alliance for Racial Equity—we support police. We also support police being held accountable,” said Janessa Carr, cofounder of the Marion Alliance for Racial Equity.
The local BLM group is receiving messages to counter protest Saturday’s Back the Blue event.
"We don't want to counter rally them. We don't want to draw attention to them. We don't neccesarily want to legitimatize their message that we are against police,” said Sophia Joseph, cofounder of the Marion Alliance for Racial Equity.
"We hope that there is no issues between the two,” said Tom Daubs, public information officer for the Marion Police Department.
Marion police officers will be patroling the area but will not be part of the rally.
"In Marion, we support and encourage freedom speech, we just want everyone to be respectful of everyone else,” Daubs added.
West encourages everyone to come.
The rally is being held at the intersection of 10th Street and 7th Avenue at City Square Park.
It starts at 10:30 a.m. Saturday.