I’ve spent a lot of time this week, maybe more than I should, reflecting on the question of how I would have reacted if there was an announcement that there was going to be a human finish line at mile 9 of the TC 10 Mile. I’ve also spent some time in recent weeks looking if people have written about supporting causes while objecting to some demonstrations. I haven’t found much, if anything. People have asked me several times this week what my thoughts (being that I’m an activist, black, and a runner) are on the planned protest from #blacklivesmatter Saint Paul at the Twin Cities Marathon on Sunday, aiming to raise awareness about police brutality. Yeah, this one hits close to home.
First, I honestly don’t understand the tactic. And when I say that, I don’t mean I have an opinion of right vs. wrong, I mean I literally don’t follow strategically how the tactic will further the cause. The scale of the demonstration vs. the choice of target. It simply doesn’t make sense to me (the point of protest isn’t to make sense to skeptics though). I think the marathon makes sense as a choice of place to raise awareness, but it’s the specifics of HOW that I don’t follow. I don’t believe in telling activists how to organize for their causes (seriously, let a leader lead or don’t participate), though I do think questioning them is a fair thing. And while a lot of people say the TACTIC is wrong because it would obstruct marathoners from finishing, I think about how so many people reacted to protesting at the Mall of America where the reaction was so similar without physically obstructing people. Is it really the tactic or is it the message so many people have a problem with?
That being said, I don’t intend to participate in the demonstration. I simply don’t rock with this one. That doesn’t change my support for #blacklivesmatter one bit.
There are a few things I do know. I do know what I wouldn’t do, and that is to get violent. I am BLOWN away by some of the things I’ve heard and read from people. Saying this is a violent protest, comparing protesters to terrorists or saying if they were to be attacked or trampled by the runners, it would be their fault. Disagree with the strategy, disagree with the message, feel like police brutality isn’t a problem? That’s one thing. But when people start saying things like “runners, I hope you throw an elbow” or “I wish they’d just go away”, that is when it gets to an area I simply can’t understand. Disruptive but nonviolent is not violent. Disruptive is disruptive. Violent is violent.
The other thing I know is that with all this talk about black lives matter and the marathon, there has been very little (if any) discussion about the recent events that are motivating this demonstration. Tyree Tucker. Edna Waddles. Marcus Abrams. Marcus Golden. Look them up. Seriously. Yes, all these cases have gotten media attention. Yes, all these cases have been investigated. But people are motivated enough by these cases to organize and stand in front of more than 12,000 people and face arrest to bring attention to these cases.
A sea of people moving and some stopping suddenly without a solid cue could quickly turn into an accidental stampede. I fear for safety for that reason FOR SURE. But ask yourself, if you support the arrest, if you would feel as strongly if people were protesting in a way you don’t agree with for a cause that you believe in.