Pro-police rally draws large crowd of supporters

Photo by Amy Cherry - City of St. Marys Police Chief Tom Nicklas addresses the crowd in attendance at the pro police rally on the Diamond in downtown St. Marys on Sunday afternoon. Photo by Amy Cherry - Patrolman Brad Harshbarger of the City of St. Marys Police Department hands out a snack to Kara Fleming during Sunday’s pro police rally on the Diamond in downtown St. Marys. Looking on in the photo is Kara’s father, City of St. Marys Councilman Joe Fleming. Photo by Amy Cherry - A local police officer hands out American flags to those in attendance at Sunday’s pro police rally on the Diamond in downtown St. Marys.
Amy Cherry
Staff Writer

“We believe that all lives matter, that all lives have dignity and respect, given to us by our creator when we are born,” said Dick Jones, vice-president of Life Matters Now. “We are very honored and pleased to host this event. We believe that the police are out there every day and every night to protect and to serve all lives. Because of that we have the opportunity, as members of the community and neighbors, to go about our business in safety and freedom and that’s not to be taken for granted.”
Elk County District Attorney Tom Coppolo acted as the emcee for the rally.
Various first responder vehicles including police cruisers, ambulances, and fire trucks surrounded the streets around the Diamond. The Crystal Fire Department’s ladder truck was positioned in front of the Boys and Girls Club of St. Marys with a large American flag draped from the truck.
Law enforcement personnel in attendance included members of police departments in St. Marys, Johnsonburg, Ridgway, and DuBois along with the Elk County Sheriffs Department and the Pennsylvania State Police.
The event took place from 2-4 p.m. and was organized by Life Matters Now, a local group who is trying to change the culture in communities and throughout the country, to a culture of life in all aspects.
An opening prayer was offered by the Reverend Michael Gabler, pastor of Sacred Heart Parish. The St. Marys Servicemen's Detail presented the colors followed by the singing of the national anthem by Lanny Prosper, a DuBois City police officer, and the reciting of the Pledge of Allegiance.
Several speakers ranging from law enforcement, local and state government officials as well as local business leaders, and political candidates, participated in the rally including: St. Marys Mayor Lou Radkowski; City of St. Marys Police Chief Tom Nicklas; Cris Dush, a local political candidate; Elk County Sheriff Todd Caltagarone; Tom “TO” Fitch speaking on behalf of the Elk County Wilds Tourism Association; Mike Armanini, a local political candidate; Phil Hoh, president of the Fraternal Order of Police Bucktail Lodge #96; Steve Nicklas, owner of Save-A-Lot in St. Marys; Elk County Commissioner Joe Daghir; and Congressman Glenn “GT” Thompson.
Speakers addressed the crowd from a small stage with large pro-police displays on each side one of which included a poem reading “I can do without Starbucks, I can do without Nike shoes, I can do without Hollywood, and I can do without the athletes and all sporting events who disrespect the flag. But I cannot imagine my life without the safety of our police officers. We’ve got to be loud and back the blue.”