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Nashville community joins man afraid to walk outside with fear of not returning home alive

Community comes together to walk with Shawn. (Photos: Shawn Dromgoole)
Community comes together to walk with Shawn. (Photos: Shawn Dromgoole)
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WZTV) – Following the death of George Floyd, an African American man posted on his Next Door app that he was afraid to walk outside for fear of not returning home alive. In response, a Nashville community stepped up and walked around the neighborhood with him.

Shawn Dromgoole made the emotional post in the 12 South Next Door group on Wednesday.

“My family has lived in this neighborhood on the corner of ninth and Knox for 54 years and I’m afraid to walk. Yesterday I wanted to walk around my neighborhood but The fear of not returning home to my family alive kept me on my front porch. Today I wanted to walk again and I could not make it off the porch. Then I called my mother Lynetra and she said she would walk with. I still kept my ID on me and my phone in my hand but I walked. #Icantbreath #icantsleep #icantwalk”

The post comes after a viral video captured a white Minneapolis police officer kneeling on a handcuffed black man's neck, while he uttered "I can't breathe." George Floyd ended up dying in police custody, his death sparking police brutality and white supremacy protests across the country. After three days of demonstrations, former officer Derek Chauvin was arrested and charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in the case.

"People have died, people have moved on, and the neighbors didn't know each other," Dromgoole said. "I was the stereotype. I was the, 'oh my gosh, this suspicious black man,' and so I just felt that I needed to share my heart."

He says the recent deaths of George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery have only multiplied his fears.

"I couldn't make it off the front porch," Dromgoole said. "I couldn't make it past to walk even down the street, around the corner, because I literally told my mom, I don't think I'll make it back alive."

In light of what's happening in Minneapolis, Dromgoole was overwhelmed when close to 75 people showed up to walk with him Thursday night and help him find a moment of peace and togetherness.

"I was able to voice something that they didn't understand and they saw a real person," he said. "And then there were people on their front porches, clapping and cheering on their balconies, it was so mind-blowing."

"And I think that was really an act of bravery for him to even share that with us and to let us know how he was feeling, and give us a chance to learn and to support him," neighbor Kristin Keiper-Berneman, who joined on the walk said.

And with so much pain and suffering being felt in communities across the country right now, Dromgoole says it's important to share those feelings.

"It doesn't take much to change your world, your collective environment," Dromgoole said. "Just open your mouth and speak and share how you feel. Don't blame anybody, but be honest and transparent."

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Dromgoole says they're planning to do another walk next Thursday night starting at his house at 6 p.m.

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