A White Man Ran Through a Florida Neighborhood Carrying a TV to Prove That Looking ‘Suspicious’ Wasn’t an Excuse for Killing Ahmaud Arbery
Haven Orecchio-Egresitz, Insider, May 11, 2020
When Richard Demsick learned of the killing of Ahmaud Arbery, he immediately thought about the privilege he had as a white man.
Arbery, a 25-year-old black man, was shot dead while jogging in February after being chased by two men — Gregory and Travis McMichael — who said he looked like a break-in suspect.
In a video that trended after Arbery’s death, the McMichaels could be seen pursuing Arbery in their truck while Arbery ran. Travis McMichael left the truck holding a gun and, after a brief struggle, Arbery was dead. The McMichaels later told the police they believed Arbery resembled a man behind a string of residential break-ins. They were charged with murder last week.
Demsick, 34, a former pastor in Vero Beach, Florida, said he felt that it didn’t matter what he wore or how “suspicious” he looked — his whiteness alone was enough to protect him from meeting the same fate as Arbery.
He decided to prove that on Friday as part of the #IRunWithMaud movement, a virtual protest in honor of what would have been Arbery’s 26th birthday.
“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 Insider. He said he thought: “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.”
So he did.
On Friday, Demsick ran 2.23 miles through his neighborhood while carrying a flat-screen TV.
His neighborhood, he said, recently did have a string of thefts. Despite that, his neighbors waved and smiled while he jogged.
“Not a soul” even approached him afterward to ask what he was doing, he said.
Demsick recorded parts of his run for a TikTok video that has been viewed more than 1.2 million times.
“All right, I figured it out. I’ve got my hat on backwards, I’m shirtless, like I’m on some episode of ‘Cops.’ I’m running with a TV. Someone’s going to stop me now, for sure,” Demsick in the video. “‘Cause if not, what was the problem with Ahmaud?”