While out supporting our local farmers market in Payson Park (temporarily relocated from Deering Oaks owing to a browntail moth infestation), Pine and Roses bumped into Nina Boutin, sporting a Justice for Breonna Taylor racing bib pinned over her Bernie Sanders t-shirt. 

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Nina Boutin with Run for Breonna in Payson Park. Photo credit Todd Chretien

Nina explained that she’s been “meeting up with a group called Run for Breonna for months in Payson Park to run, bike, walk or whatever around Back Cove. Recently, we’ve been trying to ban no-knock warrants and to raise awareness about police brutality and civil rights.” Nina mentioned that she runs whenever she can and that a friend named Helen Sturgis-Bright organizes the group. “Helen’s been running every single weekend through the whole year, in the snow and the rain, she’s always here!”

Pine and Roses caught up to Helen, who provided more details about Unity Runners and their action steps. “Unity Runners’ mission is to be a voice for Black women. It’s a national organization that works closely with the Breonna Taylor Foundation and her family. We ask for letters to be written, petitions to be signed, calls to be made, and justice for those who no longer have a voice. Fitness is a method to create community and awareness, but it is not our purpose for meeting. All are welcome and encouraged to join! We meet at Payson Park every Saturday at 8 a.m. Another group meets at 8 a.m. at Gorham Middle School.”

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Farausi Cherry coordinates the Gorham Run for Breonna group, here running Back Cove. Photo credit Helen Sturgis-Bright.

As summer gets underway, Run for Breonna is picking up the pace. “We have been working with State Representative Amy Roeder (District 125, Bangor) and her collaboration with Representative Justin Fecteau (District 86, Augusta) as they support L.D. 1171 to abolish no-knock warrants, require officers to be in uniform during search warrants, wait twenty seconds before entry to give civilians time to comply, and use body cameras during search warrants.”

According to Helen, the “group’s next big action will be on June 5 for the national observance of Breonna’s birthday to spread awareness, honor her, and complete action steps.”

Click here for information about the national Breonna Birthday event. Locally, Run for Breonna Portland will be hosting a 5k. If you’d like to join in on June 5 in Payson Park at ​8​ ​a.m., here’s the​​ starting spot. You can also participate anywhere as it is a virtual event.

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Running for Breonna Payson Park. Photo credit Helen Sturgis-Bright.

To find out more about Run for Breonna or to get involved, contact hsturgisbright@gmail.com or apply to join the FB group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/runforbreonnaportlandme/