It’s no secret we live in divided times, and you don’t need to look any further than social media to witness that fact firsthand. But it’s encouraging to see a community coming together in ways that transcend the things that tend to divide us. Here in my hometown of Covington, Georgia, we’re seeing that this week.
On Monday, local police officers responded to a shoplifting call at Walmart. The suspects fled into a wooded area, and officers pursued them. One suspect shot Officer Matt Cooper in the head before ending his own life.
Officer Cooper has a bullet lodged next to his carotid artery, and he is fighting for his life. He has a wife and two young children who are rooting for him to pull through. And so is the rest of Covington.
On Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram I’ve seen post after post offering prayers and support for Officer Cooper. Local law enforcement and media have teamed up to make sure the most current and correct information makes it out to the public. Two of the large churches in the center of town have held special services where local folks have reached across denominational and political lines to pray for him. Another previously scheduled event coming up this weekend will certainly offer more prayers, as will churches all across the county and beyond.
This weekend is one of our biggest local events of the year. The Fuzz Run is a 5K where people from all over turn out to run or cheer runners on. The race benefits Police Who Care, a local nonprofit that takes care of officers who have been hurt in the line of duty or the families of officers who have been killed. Police Who Care will step in to help Officer Cooper and his family for sure, and the fortuitous timing should bring out a bigger crowd than usual to step up to the plate.
Local businesses have turned out in tremendous ways to help support and raise money. Many of the businesses on the town square are teaming up to donate proceeds of sales for Officer Cooper’s benefit, and one shop in particular is holding a raffle. At least one t-shirt company is creating special shirts for locals to both donate and show their love for Officer Cooper. Even chain restaurants are donating percentages of profits.
I’ve even seen support from outside Covington. The famed digital billboard on the Corey Tower in downtown Atlanta is expressing support for Officer Cooper, and visitors can even see the billboard from Cooper’s room at Grady Memorial Hospital! A business in Winston, Georgia, a community an hour away, is donating a portion of its sales on Saturday to benefit the officer.
All of this is taking place with no political motive attached. The people of our community – and beyond – have rallied together to support a local hero. And it’s heartwarming to see it. I wish we could see things like this under less extraordinary circumstances.
(Photo courtesy of Covington Police Department)