Marathon protest just misses the mark

Black Lives Matter should only protest at events that relate more directly to issues of social justice.

Keelia Moeller

Members of Black Lives Matter held a peaceful protest Sunday at the Twin Cities Marathon. 
 
Prior to the race, Rashad Turner — the leader of Black Lives Matter St. Paul — had announced that his organization planned to be present at the marathon’s finish line. 
 
City officials had feared the protest would not be a peaceful one, as Turner had not illustrated whether the group planned to stop runners from finishing the race. He had
hinted that the marathon (whether it be a literal one or a race for equality) is one that people cannot finish, no matter how close the finish line may be. 
 
Turner also referenced Philip Quinn, a mentally ill man who was recently killed by police — saying Quinn’s race was over, permanently. Turner connected his cause to the perceived impossibility of completing a race.
 
Some runners even expressed concern regarding the methods Black Lives Matter would use to get its message across. As a result, St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman and Police Chief Tom Smith vowed to arrest any protesters who disrupted the marathon in any way.
 
Although I respect the peaceful nature of the Twin Cities Marathon protest, I do not believe that protesting at this specific event was the most productive choice for Black Lives Matter. 
 
The Twin Cities Marathon is full of a diverse group of athletes who train and work towards an extremely ambitious goal. To distract from their ability to finish such a difficult feat doesn’t emphasize the point that Black Lives Matter is trying to promote. 
 
Black Lives Matter aims to inform the public that we cannot trust police officials and that we must change our society. The police negligence that resulted in the deaths of men like Philip Quinn only strengthened their claims.
 
While I agree that racial bias and police brutality are enormously important issues, I believe protests will be most successful at public events that are not meant to celebrate the completion of a goal. 
 
For example, Black Lives Matter held protests at the Minnesota State Fair back in August — a protest that I believe was successful and logical. The State Fair has specific issues regarding “colorblind policies” that Turner addressed, saying the fair needs to make active efforts to include more communities of color. 
 
Black Lives Matter has a valid reason to protest. But I believe they need to avoid venues that are meant to celebrate the completion of a goal. Otherwise it seems that the venue contradicts the desired message.
 
Furthermore, if the organization more openly embraced affirmative action — a program that works toward ending disparities in schools and workplaces — it would further emphasize the need for change. 
 
By incorporating pro-affirmative action ideas into its protests and by making these an explicit part of its platform, Black Lives Matter could establish a more professional and
relatable nature for its protests.
 
People need to take these protests seriously, and I believe this would be the best way to achieve that goal.