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Hundreds ride around McHenry County for 'Back the Blue' rally

Hundreds of people rode motorcyles and other vehicles around the McHenry County area to show support for law enforcement on Saturday.

Starting at the Woodstock Harley-Davidson, at 2235 S. Eastwood Drive, the brigade made stops at the Crystal Lake Police Department, the McHenry Police Department, the McHenry County Sheriffs Department and the Woodstock Police Department.

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 previously told the Northwest Herald.

Multiple Black Lives Matter rallies in Crystal Lake, Woodstock and McHenry were held during the same time,and in opposition to, the Back the Blue rally.

Before the ride, Alger told riders that if they saw something they didn't like on the ride, that "silence is deafening."

After singing the national anthem and saying a prayer, the riders went off to their destinations.

Lake in the Hills resident Andy Castillo said he came to the ride because he wanted to support the police.

"I have a big family and I like that the police are protecting my family," Castillo said.

Part of this "big family" includes several who are police officers themselves.

Castillo's cousin was seriously injured when handing someone a ticket, and his uncle has Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder from some of his experiences, Castillo said.

"He doesn't talk about them, but we all know he's seen some bad stuff," Castillo said.

Castillo said he would be thinking of these family members as he took the ride.

"They need our help," Castillo said. "They're human, they make mistakes. Realistically, they need our kudos just as much as we do when we do our jobs."

He admitted he doesn't feel like he does enough to help the police.

"I'm just hoping to show a little appreciation," Castillo said. "It's the best I can do."

Karen Nehring, of Arlington Heights, heard about the event from a "friend of a friend." Hers was one of the few Corvettes among a sea of motorcycles.

"I love the cause, I love riding around, I love going for a drive," she said. "I love that we're going to get to drive past and thank our heroes."

Nehring said she appreciates what law enforcement does.

"I just wanted to show our support and thanks for all that they do," she said. "I want to support the good ones. There's plenty of good ones. I'd like to think they outweigh the bad."

Still, Nehring said she would still like to see an end to "the wrong kind of policing."

"I love the fact that we have generations of people, all different generations, speaking up," she said. "I have faith in the younger generations; hopefully they can really help make some changes."

Nehring added that everybody deserves to be treated kindly.

"Be kind to everybody and follow the rules," she said.

Kathy Hurst, of Frankfort, stood at a table before the event started, offering participants pieces of paper to sign as a "thank you" to the police.

Her plan was to fill these papers with signatures, and take them to as many police departments as possible in the Chicago area.

In an "era of total negativity," Hurst said she was trying to do something positive.

"We need our police," Hurst said. "We love them."'

Don Alberda, of Round Lake Beach, said he came because of everything he has been seeing about police being defunded.

"Somebody's gotta stand up," Alberda said. "We have to stand up and show our support, show them not everybody's against the police."

Alberda said some of the things being said about police are "totally out of line."

"Our society cannot operate without law enforcement," Alberda said. "I personally, and I'm sure a lot of the guys around here, would gladly stand behind any police officer if they need help.

"If we roll over on this, it's gonna be hell for people who can't protect themselves," Alberda added. "People who can protect themselves are going to be OK but the frail, the innocent, the weak, that need protection, they're not going to."

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