Peoria, IL: Four hundreds of bikers attended Back the Blue Ride

PEORIA — For hundreds of motorcycle enthusiasts, Independence Day exploded early in red, white and blue, plus black.

The later hue was prevalent on t-shirts and vests among riders gathered for the “Back the Blue Ride,” touted as a “show of support for law enforcement.” Starting at 8 a.m., participants assembled at Walters Brothers Harley-Davidson, 615 S. Maxwell Road. , Peoria.

The procession was to stop at the Peoria County Sheriff’s Office, Peoria Police Department, East Peoria Police Department, Illinois State Police District 8 outside Germantown Hills and the Washington Police Department. After the rally, riders and supporters were to gather for a cookout at the Vietnam Veterans of Illinois Bunker in Sunnyland.

The veterans group organized the event, along with the Peoria-based Quiet Pride Motorcycle Club, which in the past has hosted rides to raise money for homeless people, domestic-abuse victims and other causes. Ron Hawotte, sergeant-at-arms for the club, said he and other members had become antsy this summer after three months of no rides, because of the pandemic.

“So, we decided to so something different,” said Hawotte, 58, an Air Force veteran and retired Peoria firefighter. “We’re going to support law enforcement as a whole: the ones who have died, the once who have been injured and the ones still serving.”

At each stop, he said, the riders planned greet officers on duty — “just rev the bikes, applaud and give thanks.”

The focus of the roaming rally was entirely support of police, not any statement otherwise, Hawotte said.

“We’re not political. We’re not anti-anything,” he said.

As for recent protests of police nationally, Hawotte said, “Most people are honest and good. But you have a few goofy ones.

“This is just to show law enforcement that we support them.”

The club had expected about 50 riders. But by 8:30 a.m., more than 100 motorcycles had begun lining up, along with multiple trikes and cars, plus a bus. A half-hour later, Hawotte honked his horn and led a promenade north along Maxwell Road, flags waiving and engines roaring.

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Source: Peoria Journal Star by Phil Luciano