Will “Black Lives Matter” Prevent Runners from Finishing?

The Twin Cities Marathon is in Jeopardy

The movement “Black Lives Matter”, which was formed in the aftermath of the murder of created in 2013 after Trayvon Martin’s by police, are planning a protest at the finish of the Twin Cities Marathon. The potential disruption is causing deep much discussion on social media.

A protest planned for the Twin Cities Marathon by the group Black Lives Matter St. Paul is sparking passionate arguments for and against the demonstration on social media, especially with people who plan to run the race.

Black Lives Matter leaders say the marathon is an appropriate place to air their calls for social justice. But even some runners who back Black Lives Matter’s message are concerned about what tactics the group might use on race day.

Daniel Badhwa says he wouldn’t mind if the group decided to protest near the marathon, but he says many runners have trained for months to prepare for the race and he fears any disruption on the route could endanger the safety of runners.

“Marathon runners are such a huge, diverse crowd, I just feel like they’re making more enemies and they’re taking steps backward and doing more bad than good by stepping on the actual marathon course,” said Badhwa, who describes himself as biracial. “I 100 percent agree with the core message that Black Lives Matter is trying to get across. I just completely disagree with their method of doing so.”

Rashad Turner

Organizer Rashad Turner led the BlackFair protesters in a chant before marching to the Minnesota State Fair, August 29, 2015. Courtney Perry | For MPR News file

Protest organizer Rashad Turner, who is African-American, says the group plans on having a presence at the finish line. He didn’t say if the group will try to prevent runners from finishing the race but adds that the point is to get runners to think about a larger issue.

“No matter how close they get in this marathon to the finish line, it’s just a marathon that they won’t be able to finish,” Turner said. “Philip Quinn, who was recently killed by St. Paul police — his race is over, permanently.”

My morning rituals are typical. I wake up yearning for a few extra moments of rest. I express gratitude to a higher power for the breath in my body and the blessings in my life. I shower. I dress. I eat breakfast. I exchange laughter and words with my beloveds, embracing each other as we say our daily goodbyes. As I stand at the threshold of my home, the liminal space between warmth and safety and the chaos of the outside world, my experience becomes explicitly Black. Everyday before I leave my house, I ask myself, will today be the day I am murdered by the police?

• Video: Turner on why his group is planning to protest at the marathon
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