SPRINGFIELD, Ore. -- On July 1, Eugene dentist Dr. Michael Bratland and two of his friends appeared in a billboard on Highway 126 near Mohawk Boulevard with a message saying, "We back our blue too."
"Police need to realize there are people out there that support them," Bratland said.
The trio was also holding a Blue Lives Matter flag, the official flag of a nonprofit in response to the Black Lives Matter movement. Hundreds of community members are upset by this and the fact that the Springfield Police Department posted a picture of the billboard, supporting the organizers.
"For everybody to get all up in arms like really there was no ill intent at all on this billboard. It was to show support," said Bratland.
Dr. Silky J. Booker said the billboard is inappropriate altogether.
"That flag and people that are saying 'backing the blue' aren't backing accountability," Booker said.
He said local police departments should focus on improving their public relations before they put energy into supporting advertisements.
"Make sure you're backing accountability and backing laws that can be put in place that protect citizens and also hold police accountable for their behavior and corruption that is really prevalent from the top all the way down," Booker said.
On Wednesday, the department released a statement saying they value the voice and perspective of all community members, and they will continue to build trust.
For Booker, that trust will not be easily gained. He believes people should consider other ways to represent their stance.
"There are so many other ways that a symbol can be produced to represent the police and back of the so-called blue. Putting a blue line down the flag is defaming the flag," Booker said.
He, and many others KEZI 9 News spoke with today said they want reform, not billboards.