When Johnny Comes Marching Home

If you can’t get home, you don’t have a basic US freedom.

Johnnie Jermaine Rush had to walk home in the middle of the night, after a 13 hour shift at Cracker Barrel, and was stopped for walking “incorrectly.”

The following video shows how racism impacts urban planning, policy, and just the basic act of getting home from work.

Mr Rush was stopped for “jaywalking” in Europe “jaywalking” doesn’t exist. It exists in the US.

“The use of jaywalking as a term of ridicule against pedestrians crossing roads took off in the 1920s. In 1923 42,000 people in Cincinnati signed a petition to limit the speed of cars to 25mph. The petition failed, but the auto industry scrambled to shift the blame for pedestrian casualties from drivers to walkers.Local car firms got boy scouts to hand out cards to pedestrians explaining jaywalking,” –Aidan Lewis, BBC.

So that campaign combined with Jim Crow and Black Codes was the perfect storm to create a very racialized enforced law that overwhelmingly impacts African-Americans across that nation and is further exasperated by class and lack of investments in multi-modality transportation and urban planning that is poorly designed owing to possibly ignorance, but most probably insincerity and keeps people isolated.

(There is no “jaywalking” law in NJ, as long as you cross perpendicular and there are no cars, you can cross wherever you want.)

The “choices” Johnnie Jermaine Rush had to get him home were to wait until the 5 a.m. , because the last kind of public transit option would have been a train that left at 11:25 p.m.

Those of us who have worked in the restaurant business at any point in our lives know that getting out in less than 45 minutes at a Cracker Barrel that closes at 11 p.m. would have been a pretty amazing feat.

To catch that last train customers would have to be gone by 10:30 p.m., if he is working a 13 hour shift they had customers, so a 10:30 p.m. quitting time with 15 minute clean up and a sprint to the train as best case scenario was not happening.

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(Google maps)

So after a 13 hour shift he attempts to walk home, he makes it to Biltmore Avenue and Short Coxe. And Black men from Los Angeles to New York are never going to be able to walk home without the police terrorizing them. This is community policy, not police policy, but community policy.

Mr. Rush should have been able to get home. He should have an option other than walking after working 13 hours. He should have been able to take a train, a bus, his bike, anything and if he chose to walk, he should have been able to do it without police interference.

There should not be a stop and terrorize policy still on the books in any US city, especially since virtually all those laws are based not in safety, but on terrorizing (I say terrorizing not harassing, because that doesn’t properly describe the spirit) Black and Latinx people just trying to make it home.

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(The highly segregated part of town Mr. Rush was stopped in. Purple section Black, blue white, click on picture for more information. )

Everyone should be able to get home from work. Everyone should have a choice to walk or bicycle home from work without ending up degraded, in jail, or in the hospital.

This is why the work we do are important. That area needs a Complete Streets Plan and to move away from a plan that actively isolates and disenfranchises the African-American community from the rest of the town of Asheville.

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(Approximately where Mr. Rush was stopped. Notice the four lanes with no median road design, one of the most deadly road configurations that exist. )

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