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Protesters chant “Black Lives Matter” in response to Back the Blue march in Oregon

The protest, held on the other side of Navarre Ave., was organized after hearing about the pro-police event.
Published: Jul. 26, 2020 at 11:51 PM EDT
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OREGON, Ohio (WTVG) - Hundreds donned black and blue T-shirts and marched with Thin Blue Line flags down Navarre Avenue in Oregon on Sunday afternoon to support local law enforcement in honor of fallen Toledo Police Officer Anthony Dia.

Organizers of the march Tyler George and Jacob Struffolino say they’ve been planning the event since Dia was shot and killed in the line of duty on July 4.

“We’ve got so many people in the community that are against police and pro-police organizations, but then as you can see today, we’ve got just as many if not more that are backing the blue,” says Struffolino.

Tony Dia, Officer Dia’s father, was also in attendance leading the march that was escorted by police cruisers.

“I believe the majority, 99% always supported the police, but we were quiet while the one-percenters were making all the noise,” explains Dia “So now it’s our turn to make all the noise and drown them out.”

Others across the street, however, still wanted their message to be heard.

“It’s important for people not to just use blue lives matter as an excuse,” says Alina Vollmar, who explains how she and others wanted to organize a Black Lives Matter protest when they found out about the march. Vollmar says she is a Temperance native and knew of the Dia family prior to Officer Dia’s death.

“I didn’t think it was right just to celebrate him as a badge, and I know that he and a lot of people he was close with they supported the BLM movement or at least its ideals, so we wanted to come out to remind people of the person he was, not just the badge he was wearing,” says Vollamar.

On a banner held by protestors was the name of a man shot during an altercation with Oregon Police, Victor Dale Jr.

Leaders of the Back the Blue march say once they were aware the protest would be happening, they told folks on their Facebook page not to open carry, and to stay peaceful.

“This is America we all have the right to speak our voice they have just as much of a right as we do even if we don’t agree with it,” says Tyler George, whose father was also in law enforcement “We’re all Americans. I’m just glad we’re all going home safe, this could not have gone any better.”

Officers from the Oregon Police Department, Lucas County Sheriff’s Department, and Ohio State Highway Patrol were in attendance as well to help keep the peace.

Organizers of the Back the Blue march say they are hoping to make this a yearly event to show support for their local law enforcement and continue to honor Officer Dia.

Copyright 2020 WTVG. All rights reserved.

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