Cities and counties regularly mark roads and curbs, but in the city of Newberry there are more and more blue stripes showing up in front of houses.
On Sept. 19, Drew Cox, Newberry resident and owner of DC Pressure Washing, posted on the Citizens of Newberry Forum on Facebook. He left his phone number, offering to paint a blue stripe on anyone’s driveway in support of law enforcement officers.
“I wasn’t really prepared, my phone just started blowing up,” Cox said. “I just spent the entire day driving around.”
Now Cox estimates that he has done over 40 homes in Newberry.
“I’m on my third can of spray paint,” he said.
Cox said he came across the idea one day on Facebook. Anthony Welichko of San Antonio, Texas, posted a picture of a blue stripe and what he called The Safe Harbor Initiative.
His message stated: “To all law enforcement who see this line, know that the residents of this home appreciate your service and dedication to keeping the peace.”
That post has since been shared more than 86,000 times.
Cox’s father and grandfather had both been in law enforcement. He said it’s something that has always been in his family, and they’ve always been strong supporters.
The point of painting the stripes, Cox said, is to show law enforcement that they are supported by the community, and that hopefully when entering a neighborhood with the stripes, they’ll know they’re welcome.
“Just with everything going on in the world, I thought it would be good to do something,” he said.
Kevin Campbell, a local DJ for American Veteran Radio and Commanding Officer of Veterans Protecting the Homeland, was one of the people who texted Cox asking for a stripe in his driveway. Campbell said that he feels Cox has united the community.
“As a former law enforcement officer myself, in the military, I understand what it’s like to have people backing you,” Campbell said. “It’s just very important for any law enforcement officer out there to realize the community’s got their back.”
Sgt. Brandon Kutner of the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office said that any support for law enforcement officers is always welcome and encouraged.
“Regardless of what’s going on in Alachua County, law enforcement views itself as a brotherhood, not just within the state, but in the country as a whole,” Kutner said. “Anytime you have an anti-law enforcement sentiment anywhere around the country, it definitely affects the morale of law enforcement here locally.”
Kutner said the blue line is a reference to what law enforcement called the thin blue line. It symbolizes the line between peaceful society and the chaos that would ensue without law enforcement, he said.
“That blue line that they’re painting on the curbs in Newberry is indicative of the thin blue line,” Kutner said.
Cox has only done homes in Newberry so far, but said he would love to see the initiative spread. His friend Fritz Sattes, of Alachua, saw what Cox was doing and decided to paint a blue line in his driveway as well.
Sattes said friends and neighbors who saw it on game day assumed it was for the Florida Gators.
“I just thought it was something I would support,” Sattes said. “I tell people, it’s not an opposition of black lives matter, it’s not support of all lives matter, it’s just exactly what it is.”