MIAMI, Fla. – There were some tense moments in and around Bayfront Park Sunday when a group held a Law and Order rally and some members of Black Lives Matter were at the same place at the same time.
About 150 people showed up to Bayfront Park in support of the Law and Order rally, with part of the group there for the cause on boats in Biscayne Bay. All were gathered to make it known, through signs and chants, that they supported police officers and President Donald Trump.
At one point, City of Miami police officers rode by on bikes and the Law and Order group clapped and cheered loudly in the direction of the riders.
The demonstration was organized in response to widespread, and much larger, Black Lives Matter protests that have sprung up all over South Florida and throughout the country.
Evelio Medina, who founded the group Law Abiding Citizens’ Coalition, was the organizer of Sunday’s Law and Order rally.
Medina said he was outraged when Christopher Columbus and Juan Ponce de Leon statues were vandalized outside Bayside Marketplace last Wednesday.
"What we’re doing is saying, ‘Hey, there’s room for everybody.’ We don’t have an issue with protesting, but when it turns into vandalism, looting, burning, we draw the line right there,” he said.
In Medina’s flyer, he explained that the protest was going to be “Law and Order Citizens taking back their right to freedom by land and by sea.”
He stated on the flyer announcing the rally that “There is a thin line between Anarchy and Freedom and that line is BLUE.”
While the group conducted their protest, some members representing Black Lives Matter sat silently nearby at the Columbus statue.
That’s when some demonstrators wearing T-shirts emblazoned with Proud Boys stood in front of Columbus, saying they were there to protect the statue, and began to taunt the people sitting on the ground.
The Proud Boys are an alt-right organization designated by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a hate group. While several people at the Law and Order rally were wearing clothing bearing the Proud Boys name, most of the demonstrators were not.
There were also a few loud, verbal exchanges when a small group of BLM protesters marched through the Law and Order rally. It didn’t last long and the groups quickly separated, each going their own ways.
Except for those few tense moments, the four-hour long protest was peaceful.