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The Villages
Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Villagers rally in support of police in event at Lake Sumter Landing

NYPD retiree Bob Byrne and Donna Vallance, from Springdale Village, were at the rally.
NYPD retiree Bob Byrne and Donna Vallance, from Springdale Village, were at the rally.

A large crowd came out Wednesday afternoon at Lake Sumter Landing in The Villages to express their support for law enforcement officers and first responders everywhere.

After the invocation, by Father Gregory from St. Timothy’s Catholic Community, President of The Villages NYPD 10-13 Club Mike Spalding introduced club member Tom Troisi whose idea it was to hold the Lake Sumter Landing rally.

The Phillip DeLong Marine honor guard posted the colors.
The Phillip DeLong Marine honor guard posted the colors.

“The police willingly put themselves in harm’s way every day,” Father Gregory said. “That’s not to say that no one ever makes mistakes performing their duties — but we are here to support members of law enforcement, who are there for our welfare. They protect us from chaos, rescue those in distress, and assist the severely injured — even while under attack themselves by the very citizens they are sworn to protect. Help them, oh Lord, who stand between us and harm.”

Troisi thanked Villages District Manager Janet Tutt, Recreation Department Director, John Rohan, and active and retired police and firefighters from all over Florida for joining him at the rally.

Sumter County Sgt. Robert Siemer, Sheriff Bill Farmer, Lady Lake Police Chief Chris McKinstry and Lt. Robert Tempesta attended the rally.
Sumter County Sgt. Robert Siemer, Sheriff Bill Farmer, Lady Lake Police Chief Chris McKinstry and Lt. Robert Tempesta, from left, attended the rally.

“Thank you to CERT, to Community Watch, and to the firefighters who brought their trucks and flag. I see veterans, various club members and first responders here from Fruitland Park, Leesburg, Wildwood, Citrus, Hernando, Pinellas and Volusia counties. Thank you Sumter County Sheriff W.O. ‘Bill’ Farmer and I see Leesburg Police Captain Max Parker. Thank you to Donna Hinkle from Clown Alley #179 — I see eighteen clowns here.”

He reminded those in attendance that police officers are the first line of defense.

“Without them, we have anarchy. In December, I spoke to our Villages NYPD 10-13 club about what is happening in New York City and St. Louis — regarding the negative press — and groups of protesters saying: ‘What do we want? Dead cops. When do we want it? Now.’ This needs to be addressed,” Troisi continued, “And I suggested we have a peaceful rally supporting all our police officers.”

He said Dec. 20 was a sad day for  the New York City Police Department.

Mike Spalding, president of The Villages NYPD 10-13 club, addressed the crowd.
Mike Spalding, president of The Villages NYPD 10-13 club, addressed the crowd.

“A loss of two young officers murdered by a lone gunman, responding to the chant for dead cops. On Dec. 21 a Pinellas County sheriff’s officer was murdered and run over; and last month a Leon County deputy was also killed in the line of duty. Gov. Rick Scott signaled to all Floridians to ‘pray for our men and women in uniform, who protect our communities each day.”

Lady Lake Mayor Ruth Kussard also spoke of how police officers are being demonized by criminals today.

“We used to teach our children to respect the police,” Kussard said. “We know the names of Michael Brown in Missouri and Eric Garner of New York. But do we know the names of the dead police officers — Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos, and the others who made the ultimate sacrifice? When a police officer is killed, it is not just his department that grieves, it is the entire nation.”

Dennis McLoughlin, from the Plantation in Leesburg, George Gentle, from Lowell, Massachusetts, and retired Constable John Watkins from the U.K
Dennis McLoughlin, from the Plantation in Leesburg, George Gentle, from Lowell, Massachusetts, and retired Constable John Watkins from the U.K

Woodbury Villager Cathy Ahlers, from Beth Page, N.Y., who dressed in red, white and blue, had to park her cart pretty far away from the square, but came out in support of the police.

“This is going to be good for police morale. It will reach the media and the police will see it. OK, there are a few bad cops — but you can’t play armchair quarterback. The vast majority care, and put their lives on the line. They are under fire now more than ever, and I support them.”

Tom Troisi and Col. Harry Lumpkin (U.S. Army Ret.) listen as Dawn DiNome sings the national anthem.
Tom Troisi and Col. Harry Lumpkin (U.S. Army Ret.) listen as Dawn DiNome sings the national anthem.

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