- Associated Press - Monday, January 12, 2015

FERGUSON, Mo. (AP) - Nearly 200 people rallied in support of law enforcement officers outside of the Ferguson Police Department, site of near-daily demonstrations since Michael Brown’s fatal police shooting more than five months ago.

The organizers of Sunday’s rally provided American flags to supporters who carried signs reading “We love Ferguson police” and “God bless our police” as a cold and steady rain fell, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported (bit.ly/1Ik2SwT ). A fire pit, coffee and hot cocoa helped warm participants, who also recited the Pledge of Allegiance.

Some chanted “All lives matter,” a counter to the chant of “Black lives matter” that has become a hallmark of local and national protests since Brown, who was 18 and black, was shot by Ferguson officer Darren Wilson, who is white. A St. Louis County grand jury declined to indict Wilson, who has since resigned from the department.

“We just kind of came out to show them we love them and support them and say nice things to them instead of some of the bad things people have said,” said Trudy Giancola, a retired Ferguson Fire Department captain.

The pro-police group was later joined by about 50 police critics. The two sides shouted dueling chants and mingled peacefully, aside from one confrontation.

“You can be pro-black life without being anti-police,” said Aaron Banks. “There was a lot of positive dialogue.”

Ferguson Mayor James Knowles III and Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson attended the pro-police rally as some department critics yelled insults and curses. The pro-police event ended when rally organizers asked participants to leave as the other group of protesters grew.

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Information from: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, https://www.stltoday.com

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