Armed with little more than blue spray paint, reflective tape, and goodwill, the grassroots Safe Harbor Initiative, which started in Texas, is one of dozens of ways private citizens are showing support for law enforcement in an effort to counter negative sentiment, reports the Christian Science Monitor. A series of high-profile deaths of blacks at the hands of police has prompted a protest movement, federal and state investigations, calls for community policing, more transparency, and a move away from practices that some say unfairly target minorities. Critics say it also has helped create an unfair bias against police officers, the vast majority of whom are doing their best to protect citizens. So far, there is little evidence of a “war on cops,” as some have called it, but many police officers have said they are on edge and morale is low.
San Antonio native Anthony Welichko became involved after the fatal shooting of a Houston police officer last month. Harris County Sheriff's Deputy Darren Goforth was pumping gas into his patrol car when a gunman approached from behind and shot him. Welichko sprayed a thin blue line onto his curb and wrote a Facebook post explaining its meaning: “To all law enforcement who see this line, know that the residents of this home appreciate your service and dedication to keeping the peace. Know that when you enter the neighborhood and see these lines that you are not alone or without 'back-up.' ” More than 85,000 people shared his Facebook status. A movement was born. People nationwide are offering encouragement in other ways, from buying officers' lunches to offering a deluge of cookies, cakes, and home-cooked meals. The movement reaches beyond the blue line to touch hearts in whatever way feels comfortable, whether that means painting curbs or simply offering first responders a cold glass of water on a hot day, says the Safe Harbor Initiative’s Joe Ernst.