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McHenry County 'Back the Blue Ride' planned for Saturday

Joe Alger helps National Honors Society students from Crystal Lake South High School load boxes into a truck for Operation Support Our Troops America on Dec. 3, 2014.
Joe Alger helps National Honors Society students from Crystal Lake South High School load boxes into a truck for Operation Support Our Troops America on Dec. 3, 2014.

A motorcycle and vehicle brigade will make stops at police departments throughout McHenry County on Saturday in a show of support for local law enforcement.

Former Crystal Lake resident Joe Alger and Woodstock Harley-Davidson owner Doug Jackson organized the Back the Blue Ride in light of protests surrounding the Minneapolis police killing of Black man George Floyd.

“The goal of this ride is to show those that hold the Thin Blue Line that we stand with them and against anarchy,” Alger said.

Throughout the years, Alger has participated in more than 45 rides for soldiers killed in action, he said.

Jackson could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

Riders will meet at 9:30 a.m. for registration at the Woodstock Harley-Davidson, 2235 S. Eastwood Drive. Anyone with a street-legal vehicle is welcome to join and fly their blue line or American flags, Alger said. Departure will begin at 11 a.m. with plans to visit the Woodstock, McHenry and Crystal Lake police departments.

“We will ride through the downtown area of Crystal Lake, McHenry and Woodstock with brief stops at each police department,” Alger said. “We will end up back at Woodstock Harley for hot dogs and fun.”

Alger said he won’t enforce the use of masks or other COVID-19 precautions, noting that “it’s not [his] job to police other people.”

“I haven’t worn a mask since this thing began and I’m very healthy,” he said.

Alger’s permanent address is in Cape Coral, Florida, but recently the former McHenry County resident has been staying in Wisconsin, he said. It was the pushback against law enforcement since Floyd’s death that inspired Alger to organize the ride for those he called “red-blooded Americans.”

“I got back from Florida approximately three weeks ago and I was being exposed to this nonsense that was going on with police and the way that they’re being treated,” Alger said.

Derek Chauvin, the white former Minneapolis police officer who knelt on Floyd’s neck on May 25, is charged with second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. Three additional officers, Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao, are charged with aiding and abetting Chauvin.

Although Black Lives Matter protests throughout McHenry County have remained peaceful, demonstrations in other cities have resulted in looting and violence, injuring both police and protesters.

Floyd’s death “sickened” Alger, who said he doesn’t know anyone who condones the Minneapolis officers’ actions. Still, he doesn’t believe Floyd died as a result of systemic racism.

“I don’t believe there’s systemic racism in this country,” Alger said.

On the heels of the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor, Floyd’s death sparked outrage among protesters who attributed the deaths to systemic anti-Black racism. Demonstrators flooded their city streets with chants of “Black Lives Matter” and demanded police reform, including the reallocation of some police funds to support other community resources,.

In McHenry County specifically, protests have emphasized the importance of voting in national, state and local races. Several organizers of a two-day Black Lives Matter protest that took place earlier this month, have been working with the Crystal Lake Police Department to improve transparency and implement the use of body cameras.

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