ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — The group Black Lives Matter says it plans to ‘become the finish line’ at next Sunday’s Twin Cities Marathon.
The group’s St. Paul chapter says it will protest and stop runners from crossing the finish line near the end of the marathon. Protest organizers call it the perfect place to disrupt the activities of thousands of people.
Black Lives Matter St. Paul organizer Rashad Turner says they want to call attention to alleged police brutality in St. Paul. Runner Tony Rajkowski hopes his daughters can watch him cross the finish line next Sunday at the Twin Cities Marathon.
Rajkowski has run 21 marathons, but says this is one is the most important.
“In the Twin Cities I’m hoping to get a Boston qualifying time, which in my age group is 3 hours and 10 minutes,” Rajkowski said.
Rajkowski found out Saturday morning that nine months of training and his dream of getting to the Boston Marathon could be ruined.
“It was immediately one of those heart sinking moments,” he said.
Protesters have promised to stop runners in their tracks, creating a physical barrier of people, according to Turner.
“We need more people to wake up, and we can’t have people sit back and go on with business as usual,” Turner said.
Turner says the protest will make sure runners cannot finish the race just about one mile short of the end.
“They are putting a marathon over the importance of someone losing their lives,” Turner said about anyone frustrated with the protest.
Rajkowkski says most runners will be weak by that point in the race, but they’ll be determined to finish. He hopes a human wall won’t lead to any accidents or violence.
“I hope people take a look at what potential harm can come from their activities and actions,” Rajkowski said.
Turner hopes the runners will join the protest, saying there is no finish line in sight for the Black Lives Matter movement.
“We don’t want anyone to get hurt,” he said. “We’ve always been nonviolent and peaceful.”
The race starts at 8 a.m. next Sunday, Oct. 4. The protest starts at 10 a.m. in St. Paul’s Boyd Park. Marathon organizers sent a statement saying they are concerned about everyone’s safety and are working with city officials to figure out some logistics this week.
Turner said he met with St. Paul’s police chief and city attorney on Wednesday to discuss the protests and the group’s concerns. St. Paul Police would not comment on the meeting, saying it was a private meeting.
Rashad Turner says he asked Chief Smith and the city attorney to look into issues of use of force protocol when police make arrests as well as city ordinances the group feels target African Americans.