Attorney General Bill Barr sent a political signal Thursday by pulling over to greet protesters at a ‘Back the Blue’ event near a police precinct in Virginia Thursday.
The gathering included people holding flags associated with ‘Blue Lives Matter,’ which supports police on a variety of issues and highlights those killed in the line of duty, and which gained prominence after ‘Black Lives Matter’ protesters swarmed the streets after the killing of George Floyd.
Justice Department press secretary Kerri Kupec posted video of the drop-by, and the Fairfax County Republican Party tweeted out an image from it.
‘That time you’re driving in Virginia and the Attorney General spots a group of people in front of a police precinct showing their support for the police …’ wrote Justice Kupec.
‘Can we make a quick U-turn? I want to jump out and thank these people,’ she says Barr told his government security detail.
In the video, a bespectacled Barr, wearing a dark suit, can be seen greeting demonstrators holding signs that said ‘Law and Order,’ ‘Back the Blue,’ ‘Defend the Police,’ and ‘Love the Blue – They Give their Lives for You.’
Another sign said ‘Immigrants love Law and Order.’ President Donald Trump has made ‘law and order’ a centerpiece of his reelection campaign.
Many who were there were holding U.S. flags, although some also had the ‘Blue Lives Matter’ flag, which features a ‘thin blue line’ over one of the stripes. The group was formed following the death of police officers in the line of duty.
‘This is awesome!’ one man can be heard exclaiming. ‘You did wonderful on your testimony. Spectacular I thought,’ said one woman.’
‘They were terrible!’ yelled out another woman, possibly referring to Barr’s congressional interlocutors.
‘Come on everybody, let’s take a picture,’ says a man in a yellow shirt, who proceeds to stand next to Barr, who was unmasked for the impromptu encounter but being guarded by masked agents.
Not everyone celebrated the visit at a time of deep societal divisions and angry protests over police violence against Floyd and other black unarmed suspects.
‘This used to go without saying, but attorneys general are not supposed to attend events affiliated with and promoted by political parties. And what is up with that sign over his head?’ wrote former Democratic Justice Department spokesman Matthew Miller on Twitter.
A sign behind Barr in a group photo says ‘Minorities Back Police’ and ‘Immigrants Love Law & Order.’
The Justice Department did not respond to a request for additional information about the visit.