We run on the city of Greensboro’s Atlantic & Yadkin Greenway every weekend. We love the greenway and value the community connection with other greenway users.
But not everyone experiences the greenway as we do.
We were saddened, disappointed, angered and disgusted to learn that a friend’s 16-year-old son — a scholar and an athlete, but that’s irrelevant — was stopped, questioned and patted down by two members of the Greensboro Police Department during his 5-mile run with his uncle on the greenway over Memorial Day weekend.
According to the officers, the young man was stopped because he fit the description of someone who was reported to have a toy gun on Battleground Avenue near the greenway. Yet his clothing, physical characteristics and location did not match the quite specific description given in the 911 call.
Both the young man and his uncle are black, which also should be irrelevant, but of course is not. As white women, we have never one time been stopped, frisked or falsely accused of a crime while running (or, honestly, at any other time in our lives), nor have we ever worried that we might be. What privilege.
This 16-year-old’s life has been forever changed, and his parents will forever be left to worry about all of the “what ifs” that sadly accompany raising black men in our country. (What if there hadn’t been a GPS record of the run? What if he had been alone? What if the encounter had ended in a different way? What if … ?)
All of us should be free to enjoy the gifts of our great city without fear of false accusation and unnecessary (and potentially deadly) police interaction. Greensboro, we must do better.