FORT MYERS, Fla. — A rally to support law enforcement turned into a protest Sunday in Centennial Park.
Tensions arose as Lee County Black Lives Matter activists came to protest the police rally.
The Proud Patriots for Southwest Florida and The Fallen Officers co-organized the rally to support current police officers as well as honor officers who died in the line of duty.
Mike Randall, Vice President of The Fallen Officers, said he wanted the day to be about between members of the community showing unity with the police.
"It's about uniting," said Randall. "Everyone says this word unite as a catchphrase but they need to start practicing what they preach. That’s why we came."
Mayor of Fort Myers, Randy Henderson, also came to the rally to speak in support of the Proud Patriots and Fallen Officers group. In his speech, he spoke directly to the families of fallen officers.
"To the families who’ve lost loved ones, I just want to say please accept my heartfelt love and condolences for the ultimate sacrifice that has been paid keeping citizens safe," said Mayor Henderson. "We love you and we know its hard. You really can’t find the words to make it right."
Halfway through the program, a group with the Peaceful Protest of Lee County in support of the Black Lives Matter movement came with signs to peacefully and silently protest the police rally.
Attendees in support of the police rally confronted the group of Black Lives Matter protesters and began to counter-protest by chanting with signs.
Group administrator for the Peaceful Protest of Lee County , Mapa Peacock, said it was important for the group to come today in order to have their message of unity heard through the silent protest.
"Yes, today was a rally for the fallen officers but that is why we came with respect and we showed peace to a whole other level," shared Peacock. "I feel like we made the message clear. We’re not here to start a war. We’re not here to fight. We're here to unite us."