Mike Remy, a member of the Pioneers Run Crew, recalled a group of police officers blocking their cheer zone as they participated in this year’s Boston Marathon.
He told BuzzFeed News their cheer section consisted of organizers who encouraged runners as they hit mile 21 of the race, a notoriously difficult stretch in the competition. However, the celebration abruptly ended when police showed up at the cheer zone around noon.
“It felt like a traffic stop,” Remy, 39, said. “There was one cop on a bike kind of cruising back and forth. After doing about four passes, he came back with some friends.”
The disturbing footage has since gone viral on social media, with fellow runners and fans calling out law enforcement for racially profiling the Black runners club. Remy said there were more than 12 police officers who surrounded the group and a few more watching from their motorcycles close by.
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“There just aren’t a lot of Black and brown people into the sport,” Remy said. “It just doesn’t feel like a coincidence that the cheer zone that was policed is the cheer zone that was organized by Black and brown people.”
Cheer squad member Asia Rawls found the situation upsetting after police arrived to shut down their section. “We didn’t hand out anything, not even a bottle of water,” she told the outlet. “We didn’t hand out beer or alcohol. It was just simply happiness.”
She also overheard one of the police officers telling an organizer, “You’re gonna get arrested if you don’t do what I say.”
While many condemned police for racially targeting the group, author Alison Mariella Désir told the outlet law enforcement is known to single out Black attendees at the yearly event.
“Yesterday was supposed to be a celebration,” Désir said. “But running exists in the same context of this country in this world which is rooted in white supremacy. So we have to intentionally address the way that it shows up.”
Désir reshared a video to her Instagram account with Remy showing viewers how police were stationed in front of their cheer section.
“Not the kind of reporting I’m trying to do here, but we got [cops] all around here, and hella cops right behind us. Why are we surrounded by the police? Why are we surrounded by police?” he asked in the video.
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Several commenters called out law enforcement for their mistreatment toward the Black runners at the event.
“This is so upsetting. I can’t even imagine. I’m so sorry.”
“Disappointing. Triggering. Not okay. This moment wrecked the vibe of something truly celebratory and beautiful. @bostonmarathon @teambaa, you need to do better if you truly want to back up your words when you say you want to move towards equity and inclusion for your historically exclusive and racist event.”
“Can we do anything???? Not even breathe or take up any space. It’s like they want us to evaporate and never have been.”
“In all the years I’ve been at cheer stations, this has NEVER happened! I’m triggered and disgusted!”
As a seasoned marathoner and triathlete, Remy said the racism at this year’s marathon is something he’s always felt at past events.
“You always kind of feel it, showing up to the races, the events,” he said.