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Hundreds gather at Back the Blue rally in Rockford, met by protests

ROCKFORD (WREX) — Hundreds of people gathered outside of the Winnebago County Justice Center Saturday morning for a Back the Blue rally in support of law enforcement.

The rally, hosted by Rep. John Cabello, R-Machesney Park, and former law enforcement and FBI official Jim Sacia, was in response to criticism against police and calls to defund law enforcement agencies.

"They should make sure and be in our thoughts and prayers at all times," Cabello told the crowd. "Because they are the ones now in my opinion protecting the throne of God."

The group welcomed speaks Sacia, Cabello, as well as Winnebago County Sheriff Gary Caruana, who thanked the crowd for their support.

They also sang the Star Spangled Banner and God Bless America, before ending the rally with a prayer.

The group was met by over 100 counter protests, who were sidelined away from the rally. When the rally ended, the protesters weren't done.

The group loosely associated with Rockford Youth Abolitionists and the May 30th Alliance marched to Rockford Police District 1 headquarters. They stayed there for about a half hour before walking back to the jail.

Tensions came to a head afterward, where several people were arrested and pepper sprayed when tensions mounted between the police and protesters in the parking lot of the jail.

There is a news conference at 3 p.m. with Winnebago County Sheriff Gary Caruana, Police Chief Dan O'Shea and Winnebago County State's Attorney Marilyn Hite Ross. 13 WREX will carry the announcement live on our website and Facebook page.

Audrey Moon

Audrey is the news director at 13 WREX. She’s a graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism and joined the team at 13 WREX in 2014.

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