NORTH PORT — Amid street protests and the criticisms of law enforcement, Judy Ramirez wanted another perspective.
But how, she wondered.
So, the North Port woman and her friends had a rally at the city's police offices, a thank-you to law enforcement. A good-sized crowd came. Kids chalking the pavement, zooming Patriot Rider motorcycles and K-9 officers with their obedient dogs, the place was like a July 4 parade. And the police were thrilled.
And while the Saturday morning rally by any measure succeeded, others saw it differently. Some got busy mining Ramirez's social postings. Others complained about the lack of face masks and not keeping 6 feet apart.
On Wednesday, Ramirez's real-estate contract employer cut ties. She was a freelance referral agent. The issue was Ramirez re-posting Facebook memes deemed offensive. Then, an online activist pressed Ramirez on her postings. She lobbed a few "hot-headed" responses, she later admitted. That sequence ended the freelance job, according to a spokesperson.
But Ramirez's social views speak for many Americans — and she will press forward with the "Turn the Bridge Blue Unity Walk" in Punta Gorda, she said. The movement is more about core beliefs and civil rights than a political statement, she added.
Ramirez talked about what drives her group with Sun Newspapers.
About the organizers
"We are eight women from very diverse backgrounds. I’m a wife, mom, grandma, artist, super-loud crazy woman that can’t drink coffee because I’d function in TURBO. Katrina is a USAF vet/ICU nurse. Eileen is a retired widow of two Vietnam vets. CJ is a small-business owner and the daughter of a retired first-responder. Heidi is a cancer warrior, fighting that battle for the third time. There are currently eight of us in this little group of like-minded women."
"As far as the idea of supporting our men and women in blue — for me personally, I’ve got to tell you how I start each day. I go to my back door every morning and ask my God three questions. 'Father, where will you have me go today? What will you have me do? What will you have me say?' I seek the answers to those questions all day long. Some days I go to bed feeling like I’ve made a difference in someone’s life. Some days, I’m just like, 'Really, that was it?'"
The movement's start
"Again, I’m always looking. So, one evening last week I was in one of the North Port (Facebook) groups and a woman posted that she and Zio’s pizza delivered a few pies to the NPPD (North Port Police Department). She mentioned how she wished she could do more. A bunch of us jumped in with comments and suggestions. One woman mentioned that Venice was putting (blue) ribbons up downtown. Me being me, (kind of pushy, some even have the audacity to suggest that I’m bossy), I jumped all over it! I asked Katrina if she’d like to go to NPPD on Saturday and tie it up in blue ribbons. Within 30 minutes I had the event ready to go and plastered it in all of the North Port groups I could find. It’s important to note that Katrina, this amazing USAF vet, actually asked me to take the post down two days later. She was concerned about all the craziness going on. I told her no, but I did take her name off of the event. It actually really pissed me off that this tough chick was frightened. It made me more determined to move forward and I told her I was doing it as planned. Katrina put on her boots and showed up at the event kicking!"
"There was some push-back from a very small amount of folks that viewed the follow-up (Facebook) posts from the event. They felt that we didn’t meet their expectations for social-distancing. They were clearly unaware that masks and sanitizer were available at the event for anyone that was in need. I’d venture to say that about 95% of the feedback was positive. Most of the people indicated that they would have joined us in support of the blue, had they known about the event earlier.
"As a result, ‘True Heroes Wear Blue’ was born. We now have eight women from diverse backgrounds working together to be the light. We’re currently working on plans for three near-future events to show solidarity for our blue."
"Later this month is a ‘Turn the Bridge Blue’ walk across the (Peace River) bridge. We have a ’Picnic on The Green for Our Blue’ planned for late July, and plans for a ‘Run for the Blue 5K’ in August. We’re looking forward to seeing what the fall brings. The hope is that we can show support in an environment that’s not so charged with turmoil."
'Answering a call'
"We’re really not considering what/how others may perceive our motives. We’re just answering a call. Moving instead of talking! Acting instead of typing. It’s like this little seed that has taken root and is pushing through the ground, searching for the light. Dramatic, I know. But it’s really what we’re doing, with the ultimate goal of being that light. The proverbial ‘light at the end of the tunnel.’ We’re actually printing BE THE LIGHT on our T-shirts."
'Change can be made'
"Every single one of us has the capacity to initiate and affect change. It actually doesn’t take much. Run with it the moment that positive thought seed comes to mind. If you’re scared that you can’t do it, call someone like-minded for extra support. It’s amazing how many people share the same hopes and dreams for positive change and betterment. Particularly during these unstable times. Change can be made in the simplest show of support for our blue. A hand shake/elbow bump when you see an officer. A friendly wave on the road. Send notes/cards to your local PD. Drop off doughnuts. It’s not a cliche, it’s just a show of love and gratitude. It’s so easy to show love. Just get out there and BE THE LIGHT!"