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Ill. sheriff outraged after deputies taunted, patrol cars damaged at car show

“In over 24 years of being an officer here in Pike County, I have not observed such disrespect for law enforcement,” Sheriff David Greenwood said


Photo/Pike County Illinois Sheriff’s Department Facebook

By David C.L. Bauer
Jacksonville Journal-Courier

BARRY, Ill. — A weekend car show ended on a less-than-festive note, with Pike County’s sheriff blasting the actions of some leaving it as “a low spot for the city” and vowing to seek charges against those involved in what he calls a melee that left deputies “in fear of their lives.”

The Barry Car Show, in its 51st year, is a highlight of the annual Barry Apple Festival. A tradition has emerged in which some of those leaving the show do burnouts for onlookers — spinning their wheels while stopped to produce a cloud of burning-rubber smoke.

That’s what apparently set the stage for a confrontation Sunday between deputies and some of those watching the conclusion of the event.

Sheriff David Greenwood said in a statement posted Monday that there have been near-accidents the past few years, including one vehicle going out of control and almost hitting an onlooker and a near head-on collision.

Deputies started citing people several years ago after complaints from residents, “but for some reason the citations were torn up and the drivers were not charged. This discouraged officers and deputies from taking part in the event and risking their safety since there was no backing from the Barry officials,” he said.

Greenwood said he cautioned drivers who were leaving that if they spun their tires, they would be ticketed. He instructed deputies assigned to the event Sunday to cite obvious violations of state vehicle codes.

The deputies found themselves taunted — including being given the finger by children — and cursed.

“In over 24 years of being an officer here in Pike County, I have not observed such disrespect for law enforcement,” Greenwood said. “Deputies had items thrown at them. One of my patrol vehicles was damaged as it was surrounded by hundreds of people, kicking it, denting it, scraping it [and having] liquids thrown on it as a deputy who had just taken someone into custody was trying to leave the scene.”

The deputy said the crowd blocked him and kept him from leaving. He used pepper spray to clear the crowd, according to Greenwood.

The sheriff said only one person — a Barry Fire Department member he did not identify — tried to speak up for law enforcement but was shouted down.

“People I have known for decades were yelling at law enforcement,” cursing them with expletives, Greenwood said. “Children that were there with parents were allowed to do the same, flipping us off. Again, shameful.”

Social media posts about the incident maintained the deputy had been fired for his actions, which Greenwood said is false.

“My deputies acted valiantly during this melee, with two of them being in fear of their lives,” he said.

He said the problem was not with those taking part in the car show, but rather the onlookers. Greenwood said he is reviewing video from the event and expects to present charges of obstructing justice, mob action and aggravated battery of a peace officer to the state’s attorney’s office.

“There are an awful lot of people that can expect charges,” he said. “I pray this is a low spot for the city of Barry, not a downward spiral, and the local officials will finally do something about this situation [to keep it] from repeating itself in the future.”


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