Dallas, TX – The Back the Blue Cruise, a road rally between Dallas and Fort Worth in support of law enforcement, turned political on Sunday when the pastor of Friendship-West Baptist Church became furious after the car, truck, and Jeep parade made a pit stop in the church parking lot.
Nathan Abrams and Henri Broady, co-organizers of the road rally to support law enforcement, told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that they got permission to use the church’s parking lot in advance.
Not only did the organizers say they received permission, but the organizers said when they asked to extend their time in the parking lot by 45 minutes, they were granted permission to do so.
They told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that a church employee was there to open the gate for them as planned.
But the church’s senior pastor, Dr. Frederick Haynes, said the Back the Blue Cruise did not have his permission, KTVT reported.
Haynes said the auto and bike clubs that filled the parking lot were trespassing.
Broady said the road rally used the parking lot as a rest break only, there were no speeches or organized activities planned, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
He also said he lived nearby and had never noticed the Black Lives Matter sign on the side of the church, despite being black himself.
“There are seven or maybe eight mega-churches with big parking lots right in our area. They chose ours, that’s all I’ll say,” Haynes told KXAS. “We’re the only one out of those seven or eight that has a Black Lives Matter sign up. We’re the only one whose pastor is always out when it comes to these kinds of rallies and takes a stand against injustice. So I think the answer is real clear.”
Many in the group felt they had been wrongly labeled by the church’s pastor.
Chris Dubet, 62, rode his motorcycle in the Back the Blue Cruise and said most of the group would ride to demand justice for George Floyd, too, if asked, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported.
“You get one rogue cop who’s [an expletive] and he shouldn’t have been hired and that cop needs to be brought to justice but you don’t burn down the whole country over him,” Dubet said. “What we want to do today is peaceful.”
Although no confederate flags were seen in the extensive videos filmed of the Back the Blue Cruise, protesters provided KTVT with a picture they said showed one on a truck at the rally.
“For this type of intimidation to take place where they come to our community and choose a church that has a sign on it… Black Lives Matter… it’s an act of intimidation,” Haynes said. “It’s almost like they were trying to declare war on us.”
North Texas Jeep Club President Justin Gaffey questioned whether one of the organizers might have chosen the Friendship-West Baptist Church parking lot intentionally to stir up controversy, KTVT reported.
“I feel like one of the people that might have helped organize the event might have set us up to come here to try to cause some adversity or cause some type of issues,” Gaffey said.
He said his group had no idea the 100-plus mile ride to support law enforcement would have a political slant to it, KTVT reported.
“That’s not what our club stands for,” Gaffey insisted. “That’s not the kind of stuff we get involved in. We don’t allow any kind of politics, any kind of racism. We definitely wouldn’t have come here to start any issues.”
A group of angry Black Lives Matter protesters marched on the Dallas police headquarters late on Sunday afternoon to express their displeasure about the Back the Blue Cruise’s stop at the church, KXAS reported.