Thousands of supporters ran 2.23 miles on Friday to honor 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery's memory after he was shot and killed by a Georgia family in February. A Florida man who participated in the run over the weekend saw it as an opportunity to send a message to those criminalizing the late Arbery.
According to the Business Insider, 34-year-old Richard Demsick decided to carry a television with him on the #IRunWithMaud jog to illustrate how his whiteness could be used to insulate him from life-threatening scenarios Arbery and other Black men have experienced in this country.
As Blavity previously reported, Arbery's high school football coach urged people to come together in honor of the late former athlete by completing a 2.23-mile run, a number symbolizing the date on which he was killed, and post it to social media channels with the hashtag #IRunWithMaud.
“I just started crying when I just saw this poor young man running – as I have thousands of times in my life – get shot down,” Demsick told Business Insider.
He added that he realized he had a certain privilege just by participating in the memorial jog.
“Maybe I should run with a TV to show that being a suspicious character isn’t enough that someone should be shot down. Being a white person, that’s just not going to happen to me," he said of his thoughts prior to his run.
Demsick posted videos of himself wielding a TV while jogging to social media and said he has received an influx of love for making his run personal and symbolic.
"Alright, I figured it out. I've got my hat on backward, I'm shirtless like I'm on some episode of 'Cops,' I'm running with a TV," he said in a video. "Someone's going to stop me now, for sure. Because, if not, what was the problem with Ahmaud?"
I don’t have the answers but I think we need to be aware that not every one experiences this freedom, we need to demand that this becomes a Human Privilege. This is dedicated to the black mothers, especially Ahmaud Arberys #MothersDay
— Richard Demsick (@r_danieldemsick) May 10, 2020
Upworthy reports that Demsick grew up in Detroit, where he cultivated a passion for social justice. He danced in his youth and attended competitions where most of his friends and competitors were Black. Through these exchanges, Demsick was first introduced to the issues pervading the Black community.
"People have been incredibly kind, undeservedly kind," Demsick told Upworthy in response to his video. "There are people who are daily working trying to correct the injustice. I just made a video."
He made a subsequent video on Mother's Day and asked his mother if she'd be worried about his safety if he went through with his demonstration.
“Hey mom, when I told you that I was gonna run through a neighborhood carrying a TV, did you worry for my safety?” he asked.
"No," she replied.
“Did you think someone would call the police?” Demsick added.
“No, of course not,” the mother responded.
"Huh, I wonder why that is?" he asked.
Dedicated to all black mothers especially Ahmaud Arberys’ we can not understand your pain but we will not forget your story. Prayin ##blacklivesmatter
Demsick said one of the most influential things his parents taught him growing up was to actively listen to people who come from different backgrounds and have separate experiences.
He explained that he chose to participate in the jog — with a TV in hand— to show white people casting aspersions on Arbery that they just don’t get it.
“If you’re a white person trying to put yourself in Black people’s shoes, you’re just a white person in a Black person’s shoes,” he said.
The Florida resident was also once a pastor at what he tabbed a “primarily upper-class conservative church” in the state. He has since started focusing on an outreach program for individuals experiencing homelessness, per Upworthy.