An Ohio man wants to spread a message of support for the police and courage in the face of the pandemic by walking around his state carrying flags with him.
Conrad Allen, 52, of Putnam County carries a "thin blue line" flag, a flag supporting President Donald Trump, and a United States flag 15 to 20 miles each day around the perimeter of the state. During the COVID-19 pandemic, he wants people to know "we don't have to be afraid of each other," telling WKEF-TV he hopes his actions will inspire people to be less afraid.
"COVID is real, but so is being free," Allen said.
Allen is the executive director of the Committee for a Better Ohio, a nonprofit grassroots organization that advocates for conservative policies to improve Ohio. His biography describes him as "an outspoken American patriot and Christian Conservative who lived a life of adventure as an international exploration geologist." He is a veteran, having served on active duty as a lieutenant in the U.S. Army.
Why is he carrying his flags?
"Peace, I want to bring peace," Allen told WLIO-TV last week at the start of his journey. "You know we are here, out here, in Putnam County and near Lima here, it's pretty much Trump country. But I am going to go through the heart of Dayton, through the heart of Cincinnati, the heart of Cleveland. I want people there to know that conservatives love them, we truly do. Some of the bad guys will probably try and take my stuff and treat me mean, but I don't care about that, I will just keep going."
On his daily walks Allen says people will stop and bring him water and thank him for "backing the blue."
A sheriff in Troy even bought Allen a Wendy's sandwich for lunch to show his department's support for what he's doing.
Allen shared a video of meeting Sheriff Dave Duchak of Miami County and two other officers at the Miami County Courthouse in Troy on his Facebook page, where he posts photos and videos some of his walks around Ohio.
"It's great what you're doing," Sheriff Duchak told Allen in the video. "We in law enforcement just appreciate the support. There's so much support out there that's not getting reported on.
"Law enforcement is not the enemy, and what you're doing is huge," the sheriff added.
Miami Valley Today reporter Michael Ullery caught up with Allen on Tuesday when he was passing through Troy, interviewing him about his mission. He said his message is to travel the state to support our law enforcement officers, support the president, and support the United States of America.
"I'm a walking talking flag pole," Allen told WKEF. "It's the goodness in these flags people are reacting to."
Allen plans to continue walking around the circumference of his state, a nearly 1,000 mile journey he expects will take around 100 days to complete. While such a trek would be daunting to some, Allen is excited to keep walking.
"Fall in Ohio is absolutely beautiful," he said. "Walking 7 to 10 hours a day is absolutely heaven."