in his name on Friday. But the miles I have run to commemorate Arbery’s life carry the weight and shame that his death, as a black man, in broad daylight, on a Sunday in February earlier this year, may not have received anywhere near the attention it has, had it not been for leaked video footage that seems to show what happened to him in the last moments of his life.
that of others like me has been
analyzed, researched and
campaigned for. But what about the safety of men like Arbery, who we know face the very real fear that running while black can prove fatal? One of the men who authorities say pursued him in the middle-class Georgia neighborhood where he was killed, a retired investigator for the Brunswick County district attorney, told police that he saw Arbery “hauling ass.” Arbery was likely “hauling ass” because, as his family
has since told us, he loved running.
And now he is dead.
for the safety of other black men who are out there running?
we know black men in this country
are targets for
police aggression and so-called civilian vigilantism, we don’t talk enough about the
safety of black men running.
sent a letter — from former wide receiver Anquan Boldin and signed by 63 current and former players, including Tom Brady, Malcolm Jenkins and Julian Edelman — requesting a “prompt investigation by the FBI and the Department of Justice’s Criminal Section of the Civil Rights Division into the tragic death of Ahmaud Arbery.”
These athletes are right to demand greater resources and attention in this case. For too long, there has been inaction, a silence that hasn’t been penetrated.
received a life sentence without parole for her murder in 2016. In 2017 a suspect in Vanessa Marcotte’s case was arrested after a massive manhunt and
tip-line was set up the day after her 2016 murder. In Mollie Tibbetts’ case, a man
allegedly confessed to killing her after a reward was offered for any information into her disappearance in 2018. Soon after all of their deaths, these women’s murders were investigated. Resources and attention were rightly brought to bear.
I have run miles in their names too. Years later, I am still deeply saddened and disturbed by their killings. Vetrano was 30 years old when she was sexually assaulted and strangled to death, while running in Spring Creek Park in Howard Beach, Queens, in New York City. Marcotte, who was 27, had been visiting her mother in Princeton, Massachusetts, when she went for a run and was brutally killed in the woods, less than a week after Vetrano. Tibbetts was a 20-year-old student out for a routine evening run in her hometown of Brooklyn, Iowa, when she went missing.
These cases have not been without their missteps, and I cannot imagine how frustrating that has been for the women’s families. But these women’s deaths instantly made headlines around the country, and manhunts were set up for their perpetrators, with no suspicion cast on the victims. Instead, the stories of their lives highlighted the ongoing issue of safety for women runners.
District Running Collective in DC. Still, the co-founder of the group
Black Man Running, Rendell Smith
once told WUNC radio station in North Carolina that a white woman was so scared when she saw him jogging toward her, she dropped her groceries and turned to run away from him.