WASHINGTON – It may have started with a 12-year-old boy, the son of a police officer, in Thornton, Colorado, earlier in July, after the tragic police assassinations in Dallas and Baton Rouge.
Alex Herrera got the idea to encourage neighbors in his town to switch out porch lights with blue bulbs letting passing officers know they are appreciated and supported.
“Every day they wake up, they’re risking their lives for a stranger that they don’t even know,” Alex said.
When Alex and his parents stopped by a local home-improvement store, the manager was so impressed with the idea, he donated 24 bulbs to the cause.
Since then, the idea has swept across the nation – from little towns like Imperial, Nebraska, to large cities like Chicago and seemingly from coast to coast.
“Police officer’s lives do matter,” said Alex Herrera. “Every life matters. Not just one. Every life.”
That spirit has exploded nationally over the last two weeks – completely under the radar screen of the major media.
An electrical utility in Nebraska is getting behind the movement. The Southwest Public Power District is giving away to its customers in several counties free blue lights to install in outdoor fixtures with the support of local sheriff’s departments.
“These men and their deputies are called upon 24/7/365 to perform all duties from stray dogs to homicides and other violent crimes,” said Colyn Suda, SWPPD customer service manager. “The board and the employees of Southwest Public Power District would like to express their support and appreciation for all law enforcement, but especially those in the communities we serve in Southwest Nebraska.”
In Tampa, Florida, residents have embraced the grass-roots movement as Dakota Davis organized an entire neighborhood to switch to blue lights. “We do care,” he said. “Maybe when it feels a little bit dark out there for them, and they might be scared, that they know that we do care.”
In Chicago, they’re not only installing blue lights, but placing blue ribbons on trees. “It sends a message home. It’s such a quick indicator, a very simple action, but there’s a lot of meaning behind it,” said Al Torres of Garfield Ridge. “And we certainly hope it catches on.”
Indeed it is – in Martin, Kentucky, and Lafayette, Louisiana, where a Notoco store in Baton Rouge donated blue bulbs to honor fallen officer Montrell Jackson.
They’re going blue in Green Bay, Wisconsin, and Austin, Texas, where the “Back the Blue” motto is being used by homeowners to show their support. Five-hundred bulbs were donated to the cause by Home Depot and other area business.
But, so far, the White House has resisted bathing the nation’s most prominent residence in blue.
Barack Obama has been fond of lighting up the White House in pink for Breast Cancer Awareness Month and in rainbow colors following the Supreme Court’s ruling in favor of same-sex marriage.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest steadfastly declared the White House would not show its respect for fallen police officers in such a manner. And earlier this month, Obama ignored a prime-time TV request from Texas’ Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick to join the movement. Michelle Malkin and conservatives recently visited the White House in a demonstration using blue lights to underscore the point.
Besides that, the only thing that seems to be holding the national movement back is a shortage of blue lights.
Many local stores across the nation have consistently been sold out of blue light bulbs.
“People every day are looking for them since Mr. Matt’s funeral,” Charles Creed, an employee at a local Baton Rouge hardware store said, referring to Matthew Gerald, one of the officers killed in the police ambush that also killed Montrell Jackson and Brad Garafola, and injured two other officers. “We haven’t had them in about two weeks.”
“All of our suppliers and distributers are out,” Creed said. “They are definitely in high demand.”