The typical quiet of the MIT campus on a summer morning gave way to a deafening rumble today as motorcycle after motorcycle—more than 50 in all, from police departments and motorcycle clubs across Massachusetts—roared to life and joined a solemn procession that paid tribute to slain officer Sean Collier.
Participants in the event, which raised money for the families of police officers killed in the line of duty, paused for a moment of silence at the site where Massachusetts Institute of Technology Police officer Sean Collier was allegedly killed by the Boston Marathon bombing suspects in April.
MIT Police officer Karl Martinsen, a close friend of Collier’s, said he was moved by the large turnout of officers from far-flung departments.
“We’ve obviously been through a lot, and it’s always overwhelming for us to see the support of the officers and the community,” he said. “But just as important as remembering the officers is remembering the families left behind.”
Today’s ride from MIT to the State House was one stop on a nationwide tour by Harry Herington, a retired Texas police officer who is biking to every state in the country as he raises money for his Ride4Cops charity.
Herington’s customized blue Harley Davidson, painted with American flags at half staff, has become a rolling memorial to fallen officers, covered in replica badges, pins, and other momentoes given to him by families of fallen officers.
“People tell me, ‘my son would want to be on your mission,’ ” Herington said as he fired up his bike. “As a police officer, you make a promise to your comrades that you’ll take care of their family if something happens to them. I’m just keeping that promise.”
Collier’s sister, Jennifer Lemmerman of Melrose, said the large show of support by the “brotherhood” of Collier’s fellow officers would bolster her grieving family.
“It’s really beautiful to see them all,” she said. “They have rallied around us ... in a way that has meant so much.”
The procession of motorcycle officers and supporters rode across the Longfellow Bridge to the State House, where they attended a ceremony at the Law Enforcement Memorial headlined by Attorney General Martha Coakley.
Herington’s journey has so far covered 28,000 miles and raised more than $350,000, his group said. Money raised from the Massachusetts stop will donated primarily to the nonprofit Concerns of Police Survivors (C.O.P.S.).Dan Adams can be reached at email@example.com. Find him on Twitter at @DanielAdams86.