A charity flag football game honoring a fallen police sergeant in Thousand Oaks, California, has been canceled after a police chief reportedly dropped out and encouraged others to do the same because Trump-supporting celebrities Scott Baio and Joy Villa were slated to attend.
The “Blue Bowl” event in honor of the late Ventura County Sgt. Ron Helus was scheduled to take place this Sunday at Newbury Park High School, but now all the donations are being returned after organizers said Thousand Oaks Police Chief Tim Hagel convinced organizations to drop out, a local Fox affiliate reported.
Mike Randall, vice president of the Fallen Officers Foundation, which organized the event, told the Fox affiliate that Chief Hagel called him and said the speaker list would cause a backlash.
“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,” Mr. Randall said. “‘We don’t want Republicans here.’ I could not believe it. We were totally floored by this comment.”
Mr. Randall said the police chief later texted him to say he was pulling out of the event after discussing the issue with the Venturas County Sheriff’s Department, which also decided to drop out.
“He goes, ‘Yeah this ain’t gonna work for us.’ I said, ‘You’re not gonna support this with the honor guard?’ and he goes, ‘No we’re not bringing the honor guard. We’re not coming, we’re not going to be there, not supporting it,'” Mr. Randall recalled.
He said they were forced to postpone the event indefinitely after other sponsors and politicians followed suit.
The Ventura County Sheriff’s Department and Sheriff Bill Ayub later issued a statement explaining their decision to drop out of the event.
“As the event began to materialize, we became concerned with the behavior of some of the organizers of the event,” the statement said. “Although I believe the organizers had good intentions, the event was moving in a direction we no longer felt comfortable supporting.”
Singer Joy Villa, who was slated the sing the national anthem at the game, slammed the department’s decision as “despicable.”
“You’re shutting down an event because of the way conservatives think, because I support the president?” she said, Fox reported. “This is disgusting, I’m appalled, and in all my years being an out conservative, I’ve never seen something so despicable like this.”
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