A charity event in California honoring fallen police officers from the Borderline mass shooting has been canceled after a local police department pulled its support.
The organizers of the event claim the local police chief threatened to pull his department’s support after raising concerns about Trump-supporting speakers who were invited to the event. The police department claims they did so out of respect for the victims and their families.
The Blue Bowl is a series of co-ed charity flag football tournaments organized across the country by an organization called The Fallen Officers. According to the Florida-based nonprofit’s website, the Blue Bowl aims “to honor and to benefit the families of the fallen.”
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Register your business, family, co-workers, friends, Police Dept, Fire Dept, Radio Station, Television Station,Political Party, High School, College or anyone for the First Annual Sgt. Ron Helus Blue Bowl 10-6-19 from 8am-3pm! Go to www.ronhelusbluebowl.com and support and honor a true Hero! #thebluebowlflagfootball #ronhelusbluebowl #ronhelus #thousandoaksstrong #thousandoaksshooting #thousandoaks #ventura #venturacounty #venturastrong #venturabeach #laramsfootball #larams #flagfootball #nfl #venturacountysheriff #venturapolicedepartment @ventura_county_news @venturacountyfire @vcsheriff @venturapolice @thousandoakshonda @usarmythousandoaks @newburyparkhs
The tournaments rely heavily on the participation of local police departments, businesses and residents to participate and support the families of fallen police officers.
In an Oct. 2 statement, Ventura County Sheriff Bill Ayub said he initially approved the department’s support of the event that was to help support the family of fallen VCSO officer Sgt. Ron Helus and other families of Borderline shooting victims.
“The Ventura County Sheriff’s Office has worked with hundreds of organizations, businesses, and individuals over the last year to organize and plan successful fundraisers for the Helus family and all the victims of the Borderline tragedy,” Ayub wrote.
“To date, every event has been successful, lifelong friendships have been established, and people of all faiths and all political views stood hand-inhand because the focus was exactly where it needed to be – on the victims and their families.”
The event was set to take place at Newbury Park High School in Thousand Oaks, California, on Sunday, but has since been canceled, according to KTTV-TV.
Mike Randall, Vice President of The Fallen Officers, told KTTV that the event was canceled after Thousand Oaks Police Chief Tim Hagel raised concerns about Trump supporters who were invited to the event to speak and sing.
Randall claims the speaker list for the event was bipartisan and included such people as Governor Gavin Newsom’s public safety liaison, actor Scott Baio and singer Joy Villa.
Chief Hagel allegedly called Randall and threatened to pull the police department’s support if the Trump supporters were not removed from the event’s lineup.
“He basically said over and over in the conversation this is not Trump country, that slogan ‘Make America Great’ is not favorable, popular, within 1,200 square miles, that we don’t want Republicans here,” Randall said, according to KTTV.
“I could not believe it … We were totally floored by this comment. ‘The only thing,’ and I quote, ‘the only thing you coulda made this worse, Mike, was to invite Dick Cheney and Sarah Huckabee Sanders,’ and I went … wow, are you kidding me?”
After Randall refused to make any changes to the speaker list, Chief Hagel confirmed the police department’s decision to pull its support via text and phone call.
Sheriff Ayub later rebutted Randall’s claims in a statement, calling them “a vicious and calculated social media campaign” against the VCSO in general and Hagel specifically.
He said the department’s decision to pull its support from the event was based on its commitment to respect fallen officers and their families.
“As we drew closer to the actual event, they seemed to become more focused on political agendas, and less and less so on the victims and their families,” Ayub wrote.
The sheriff’s statement also included comments from Karen Helus, Sgt. Ron Helus’ widow, and her son Jordan.
“I am saddened and disappointed that a charity fundraiser has turned into politically charged national news story,” Karen said. “Unfortunately, the politics surrounding this flag football event turned into a distraction from the cause it was meant to highlight.”
Jordan Helus said that even though he was thankful for The Fallen Officers’ efforts to honor his dad and other officers who died in the Borderline shooting, he was disappointed that they were trying to “paint Tim Hagel as the villain.”
“There was no villain. No one was in the wrong,” Jordan said. “The focus of the event changed and the VCSO no longer wanted to be affiliated with the newly perceived focus of politics.
“The only wrong done was slander on the part of the organizers.”
Singer Joy Villa told KTTV she was disgusted by the “prejudice” now surrounding the event.
“I was gonna come up from Hollywood to support this, this is not okay, this is prejudice, hello?” she said.
“You’re shutting down an event because of the way conservatives think, because I support the president? This is disgusting, I’m appalled, and in all my years being an out conservative, I’ve never seen something so despicable like this.”
Fallen Officers founder Rosemary Zore told Fox News in an Oct. 3 interview that the event was never meant to be political, but was instead intended to raise support for local law enforcement.
“We did not make this political,” she said. “It was made political when we got the phone call from Chief Hagel telling us that we were making it political just because we had speakers and a singer that is of Republican values and we were told that they are not representative of the community.”
“There’s a war on cops right now, and it’s terrible what’s happening to our law enforcement and it’s important for all of us to unite,” Zore continued. “No matter where you come from.”
Randall also responded to the sheriff’s statement and said the organization won’t back down.
“Ron Helus was a true hero, he saved lives that night, did he run in and go ‘Are you Republican or Democrat or independent, I need to know before I help you?’ No they don’t” he said, according to KTTV.
“You’ve messed with the wrong person, you’ve messed with the wrong founder, you’ve messed with the wrong foundation.”
The Western Journal has reached out to both The Fallen Officers and the VCSO for comment but has not yet received a response. We will update this article if and when we do.
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