THURMONT, Md. – They came, they chanted, they waved signs, they cleaned up and they were nice.
That’s how Thurmont Police Chief Greg Eyler summed up activities of protestors who showed up in his town last weekend while the G8 was being held in nearby Camp David.
“We had no problems at all,” he said in a recent interview with Officer.com. “There were no injuries and no arrests.”
Eyler heads a 10-person department in Thurmont, also known as the Gateway to the Mountains.
He said local officers couldn’t be more pleased with the way things turned out in Frederick County.
“The planning started that day in March when I got an e-mail from the Secret Service telling me they were moving the G8 to Camp David," Eyler said.
The presidential mountaintop retreat is roughly three or four miles from the small town where protestors didn’t need permits to march.
“Early on, when I heard who was coming, I told their leaders we wouldn’t violate their First Amendment rights. But, they had to respect our goal as well – to protect the lives and property here and keep everyone safe.”
The Frederick County Sheriff’s Office and Maryland State Police were involved from the start with the preparations as well as federal law enforcement officers. Incident action plans were developed, and officers kept the locals up-to-date on intel about planned protests.
Eyler said local residents were kept informed in the days leading up to the summit. The county established an information center, complete with website, to let everyone know which roads were going to be closed.
“I got flack for asking people to remove the little wooden butterflies from the parking meters for the weekend,” he said with a laugh. “But, I didn’t want anything that could be used as a weapon.”
A monk, who walked from Pittsburgh, was the only protestor in town on Friday. A local resident reportedly gave him a place to stay for the weekend.
On Saturday morning, things were a tad tense for a bit, Eyler admitted, when five buses of people from Ethiopia showed up.
“We were expecting two buses. We were concerned when five showed up.”
Eyler said while officers, dressed in riot gear, got into formation to keep protestors confined to certain areas downtown, residents showed up to take pictures. One local citizen brought his children down to the area in a wagon to watch.
The chief added he heard at least a handful of local folks joined the cause.
“They were very passionate and vocal about their beliefs,” the chief said. “But they were nice. They cleaned up the area before they left.”
Law enforcement agencies involved in the G8 will be meeting this week to critique it.
And, they’re hoping that the federal government will come up with funds to reimburse the agencies involved for overtime and expenditures.
Unlike Chicago, where reports indicate as much as $45M had been set aside for police protection, none was allocated in Maryland.
Local Congressional representatives have said they are looking into getting reimbursement.