Inspiring

75 Neighbors show up to walk with man who feared walking alone in his neighborhood

June 26th, 2020

29-year-old Shawn Dromgoole has lived in his Nashville neighborhood, 12 South, all of his life. His family moved to the area 54 years ago but throughout those years, he saw his neighborhood change.

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Facebook/Lynetra Lynne Dunn Source: Facebook/Lynetra Lynne Dunn

Like many predominately black neighborhoods in America, 12 South became gentrified. Slowly but surely, he watched the faces of his neighbors change as many families were priced out of the area.

Dromgoole admits that he’s always felt out of place in his neighborhood. Over time, he and his family became one of the few black families residing there. He only began to feel more and more unwelcome as time went on.

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Wikimedia Commons Source: Wikimedia Commons

As the killings of black people in America demand more attention, Dromgoole says each of these victims could easily be him. While this has always been the dark reality for black people, technology helps to shed light on this very real problem.

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Unsplash/ev Source: Unsplash/ev

Recently, the murders of two unarmed black men, Ahmad Arbery and George Floyd, were caught on camera and only reminded Dromgoole of the dangers of being black.

In an interview with the Washington Post, he says, “What happened to these men could easily happen to me. I became scared to walk past my porch.”

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Facebook/Kerry Conley Source: Facebook/Kerry Conley

He also shared that he has been stopped by police in the past for looking suspicious.

“It’s not a new reality,” he says.

Dromgoole has always enjoyed walking but found himself paralyzed by the fear of leaving his porch.

“I remember just walking as a kid. In a world that’s so complicated with technology and things, sometimes you just need to walk off your front porch and say hey to your neighbor.”

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Facebook/Shawn Marqus Dromgoole Source: Facebook/Shawn Marqus Dromgoole

Two days after the death of George Floyd, he turned to Facebook and Nextdoor, an app that allows people living in the same neighborhood to connect, to share his thoughts.

Yesterday I wanted to walk around my neighborhood but The fear of not returning home to my family alive kept me on my…

Posted by Shawn Marqus Dromgoole onWednesday, May 27, 2020

Little did he know the response he received would overwhelm him. Particularly because he has seen postings about “suspicious black men” walking in his neighborhood before on the Nextdoor app.

He received 150 messages from neighbors and strangers in the area offering to walk with him. Some also apologized for making him feel out of place in his own neighborhood. He thanked them for their kind words and informed them when and where he planned on beginning his walk.

When he arrived, 75 people were waiting for him.

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Facebook/Shawn Marqus Dromgoole Source: Facebook/Shawn Marqus Dromgoole

“I was so overwhelmed, I still can’t find the words,” he says.

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Facebook/Shawn Marqus Dromgoole Source: Facebook/Shawn Marqus Dromgoole
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Facebook/Shawn Marqus Dromgoole Source: Facebook/Shawn Marqus Dromgoole

The walk lasted an hour. But Dromgoole didn’t plan on stopping there.

Eventually, he plans to walk in Brunswick, Georgia, where Arbery was killed, Miami Gardens, Florida, where Trayvon Martin was killed in 2012, and Cleveland, where 12-year-old Tamir Rice was fatally shot by police.

Until then, he’s begun to host walking events called, “Walks with Shawn.”

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Facebook/Shawn Marqus Dromgoole Source: Facebook/Shawn Marqus Dromgoole

He hosted a walk in Nashville where over 300 people participated. In addition, neighbor, Kerry Conley, and his mother, Lynetra Dunn, started a GoFundMe to help raise money in order to host more events in cities across America.

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Facebook/Shawn Marqus Dromgoole Source: Facebook/Shawn Marqus Dromgoole

Shawn Marqus Dromgoole asked for us all to share and it is least I can do. Shawn posted in our nextdoor page on Wed….

Posted by Kerry Conley onFriday, May 29, 2020

With some of the funds, he was able to purchase a plane ticket to Philadelphia for his next walking event on July 4th. As ambitious as it sounds, he’s hoping to host a walking event every week in a different city.

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Facebook/Shawn Marqus Dromgoole Source: Facebook/Shawn Marqus Dromgoole

The GoFundMe states, “Shawn’s dream is to walk across the country for everyone who is afraid and alone and to build real communities.”

We’re with you, Shawn!

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Facebook/Shawn Marqus Dromgoole Source: Facebook/Shawn Marqus Dromgoole

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Sources: The Washington Post, Today, Good News Network

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