By David Benda, firstname.lastname@example.org
Driven by the events last week in Dallas, a group of Redding residents, law enforcement and businesses have banded together to show their support.
Started last fall, the Redding chapter of We Back the Blue held a press conference Monday afternoon at Signsations on Alfreda Way to kick off a fundraiser for the five police officers who were killed Friday during a Dallas protest.
Brian Martin, a retired Redding police officer and co-chairman of We Back the Blue, said all proceeds raised from the sale of T-shirts will go to Dallas. The suggested donation for the shirts is $15 to $20.
About 60 people attended Monday's event.
"I came here to support Redding officers. I have a lot of friends in law enforcement," said retired businessman and Palo Cedro resident Ben Nowain, who purchased two shirts. "I believe that all colors matter. Not just white, black and blue. Any color matters."
Celeste Draisner, who also attended Monday's press conference, said she hopes events like this continue the dialogue between police officers and their community.
"I'm here to listen," Draisner said. "I believe the community needs to be involved and I believe the public wants the people who serve them to be accountable."
Martin got a call from Brian Moore, president of the Redding Peace Officers Association, on Friday. Moore asked Martin if We Back the Blue would partner with Moore's group to support Dallas.
We Back the Blue had already started producing T-shirts for its October fundraiser. So Martin's group decided to pull those out and sell them to help Dallas.
"The businesses have been great," Martin said before the press conference. "They have donated their help. They want to support our officers to let them know that people care about them out here."
But it was Signsations and owner Scott Welch whom Martin approached last fall about partnering to start a We Back the Blue chapter in Redding.
"He was interested in bringing some awareness to the community to try to keep community supporting law enforcement," said Erika Nelson, who works at Signsations and is co-chair of the Redding We Back the Blue.
Moore told the gathering Monday that the Redding Peace Officers Association stands with the Dallas Police Department and the families of the officers who were killed and injured.
"The real issue doesn't have to do with black lives or blue lives. Any loss of life, regardless of color, is a tragedy," Moore said.
Cindy Yuill, who lives in Millville, said violence is never the answer.
"Basically we all need to love one and other, and we are all Americans," Yuill said after Monday's event.
We Back the Blue in Redding has raised $15,000 since its inception in October. Martin said that money has gone to three law enforcement charities: Operation Blue Santa; 10-25 Foundation; and California Peace Officers Memorial Foundation.