In the wake of multiple instances of police brutality against African Americans, local activists are holdinga virtual 5K to support racial justice efforts.
Due to COVID-19 social distancing …
In the wake of multiple instances of police brutality against African Americans, local activists are holding
a virtual 5K to support racial justice efforts.
Due to COVID-19 social distancing restrictions, participants in the first-ever 5K for Justice on June 20 will travel five kilometers in whatever way they want, wherever and whenever they can.
“You don’t need to run it – you can walk, paddle, bike,” said Eddie Cascella, one of the 5K’s co-chairs. “It’s about getting people together as a community to support a cause.”
Participants can sign up by making a donation to firstname.lastname@example.org through PayPal, @FiveKforjustice via Venmoand $FiveKforjustice on CashApp. Any monetary donation is acceptable. Proceeds will be split between Campaign Zero, a campaign created to develop policy proposals against police brutality; Black Visions Collective, a Minnesota-based nonprofit that supports empowerment of
African-Americans; and ActBlue Community Bail Fund, a fund that uses donations to pay bail for nonviolent protesters who can’t afford it.
As of this week, 5K for Justice had raised roughly $5,000 from 175 different donors, according to Cascella. About 500 people across the country have expressed interest in the event on its official Facebook page.
According to Cascella, he and his friend Mike Broccoli first came up with the event after incidents of police brutality made headlines over the past two weeks. Broccoli works as an EMT, and during one of his late night shifts, he was struck with the idea. Broccoli then called Cascella as well as his girlfriend, Madison Almonte, to help him organize the event. All three are natives of Warwick.
When organizing the 5K, the team was inspired by similar events across the country, including in Washington, D.C., where Cascella attends American University. Additionally, many traditional 5Ks have been canceled due to COVID-19, so Broccoli hopes that those who would typically participate in those will join in the 5K for Justice instead. Participants will be encouraged to post about their involvement on social media.
“We’re both white males, we have a lot of privilege, but I feel like on social media people are turning posting
their support into a vanity contest,” Cascella said. “Hopefully, posting about this 5K can not only be
about showing support, but education.”
Cascella asks participants to use the hashtag #5k4justice on social media. He hopes people continue to use the hashtag after the event to post anti-racist art, reading material and information, including places to donate to end racial injustice.
”We’re going to use that hashtag as a destination for anyone who wants to further educate themselves,” Cascella said. “I’m looking forward to how many people will use the hashtag,
because at the end of the day, many donors are white, and it’s good to get education on what marginalized
groups want and need.”
Broccoli said that although many protests have been held in person despite social distancing guidelines,
keeping this event virtual can make it more inclusive for more participants.
“Many people that I’ve talked to
don’t feel as comfortable at the protests with the looting at some of the riots; there could be that one bad seed that ruins a protest for everyone,” Broccoli said. “I also think that with social distancing, this is more accessible for people who can’t make it to protests.”
Broccoli’s own background also inspired him to get involved in the event.
“I come from a family of police officers and military people, so I think there should be more proper training and prevention against racial profiling,” Broccoli said. “I understand where people are coming with this negative connotation with police officers. I think we need community outreach and understanding of these
Broccoli and Cascella said that they would attempt to run the 5K together, although Broccoli says that he is “not much of a runner.” Almonte said that she plans to jog as well.
If this year’s event is successful, the team hopes that it can be done again next year – and hopefully, in person.
“We would love to continue this,” Almonte said. “Obviously, all the attention right now is on racial injustice in the country, so it would be nice to keep an event like this moving forward and keep it up and running and keep the issue on peoples’ minds. Once things settle down again and we can have larger groups, we can increase capacity and possibly have it in person.”