MOUNT GREENWOOD — The rain and sleet didn't bother the 100 people huddled under umbrellas, blue ribbons affixed on their chests. After all, the police officers in Chicago and nationwide they were marching to support have to serve in all sorts of conditions.
"It could be the middle of a storm and I'd come out here," said Nancy Kennedy, 59, who has a son and nephew in the Chicago Police Department along with another nephew who is a state trooper.
Kennedy said her son was nearing his 10th year on the force.
"My heart and soul are with them every day. I back them. It's not an easy job for any of them to get up and do what they do everyday it scares me but without them what would we have," said Kennedy, of Oak Lawn.
The Blue Ribbon walk was born when Mount Greenwood resident Patricia Gilboy-Mueller began using blue ribbons to wrap street poles and trees on her block of the neighborhood, which is heavily populated with city workers, teachers, police and firefighters. A few days later, cars honked their support for Mueller and her family as they lined a portion of 111th street with blue ribbons.
It's served an antidote to the marches that followed a wave of anti-police sentiment following the deaths of Eric Garner, Michael Brown and others at the hands of officers, culminating with the slaughter of two New York City officers as they sat in their squad car last month.
Marnie Ketza Coyne of Mount Greenwood is the driving force behind the Blue Ribbon Walk. Her husband, Steve Coyne, is a 17-year veteran of the Chicago Police Department and currently assigned to Englewood.
"It's going to piss some people off," Coyne said earlier in the week before the Blue Ribbon Walk. "But everybody has the right [to march], and we are using ours."
Coyne used the campaign office of Dr. Anne Schaible to organize the walk. Schaible, a 19th Ward aldermanic candidate, is also distributing additional blue ribbons from her headquarters at 3135 W. 111th St. in Mount Greenwood.
There was no shortage of car horns Saturday afternoon as the group of supporters flanked 111th Street walking from Kedzie Avenue to Mount Greenwood Community Church at 3509 W. 111th St., where Pastor Bill Crowder gave all officers a special blessing.
"We have a large police family community. My parents are cops, my brother, my grandparents were cops, my husband is a cop... and it's a similar feel in the community," said Jamie Hernandez, who has lived in Mount Greenwood for 18 years.
Hernandez said seeing support from other neighborhoods and communities inspired them to do their part.
"Why not do a peaceful march and promote [that] police lives matter," Hernandez said. "It shows how important our community is and our families. We want to get the message out there, ya know."
Hernandez said protests like the one lead by Rev. Jesse Jackson Friday in Milwaukee in support of Dontre Hamilton, who was fatally shot by an officer in April spread the wrong message and "ramps everyone else up."
"Let's stop the violence. We want to be law abiding citizens. We want the police to feel safe when they go to work," Hernandez said. "We don't want anymore lives shed. Too much has been lost."
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