Running for Justice; Destination: Ferguson

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Scott Olson/Getty

A roughly 540-mile awareness-raising run ended Sunday when Londrelle Hall dropped to his knees in front of a Ferguson, Missouri, memorial to Michael Brown, who was shot and killed by a police officer in August. Elbows resting on the rain-soaked asphalt, Hall, 28, put his head in his hands and cried.

“My experience was putting myself in [Brown’s] shoes the entire way,” Hall told ThinkProgress after the run concluded at Brown’s memorial. “When I got here, I broke down and cried because I was in his shoes and felt the same pain that he would feel, and that the community felt. I know there’s a lot of tension, and I can just feel the energy here, and my soul cried out.”

Hall, along with Ray Mills, 29, ran more than 500 miles from Atlanta to Ferguson to pay tribute to the black teenager who was shot and killed by Darren Wilson, a white policeman.

“The Mike Brown incident happened, and I had a reason to run for not just my problems but the problems of the world,” said Hall, a videographer and artist. “I wanted to do something that was meaningful and kept an eye on Ferguson.”

The pair reached Ferguson as tensions were running high in anticipation of a grand jury decision on whether Wilson would be indicted. Renewed protests led to several more arrests in the days preceding Hall’s and Mills’s arrival.

Hall and Mills said the goal of their run, which they dubbed “the Run for Justice,” was “to raise awareness for racial injustice and police brutality in America,” according to their project’s website. They also wanted to provide an alternative to stereotypes of black men, they said.

Statistically, it seems like in our community we [black men] are incarcerated or doing nothing. We want to go against the grain and not be another statistic, and we wanted to inspire other people to do the same, Mills, who runs a credit repair company in Atlanta and Burbank, California, told NBC News.

We want to show that people who look like us can be doing something positive,” Hall added.

The two launched a GoFundMe campaign to help raise money for the families of Brown; John Crawford, who was killed at an Ohio Wal-Mart in August; and Charles Smith, who was killed while handcuffed in Savannah, Georgia, in September, as well as to help post bail for those arrested while protesting in Ferguson. As of this writing, they have raised over $4,000. They are also selling “Run for Justice” merchandise.

After a month of training, the pair set off in early November. They ran and walked more than a marathon’s worth of miles each day on average, winding through five states before arriving in Ferguson. Supporters could accompany Hall and Mills on social media as they tracked their progress.

Supporters congratulated them via social media as well upon their arrival.

The Run for Justice website offers longer-term goals: organizing a “Million Man March” in Ferguson and raising funds for a program for black youth, “with programs based on African History, Arts, Critical and Free Thinking, Entrepreneurship and Youth Empowerment.”

Hall and Mills plan to return to Ferguson periodically, “after the media’s packed up and gone,” Mills said.

“What happened in Missouri, what happened in Chicago, what happened in Savannah can happen right here in our neighborhoods,” Hall says in a Run for Justice video, posted on YouTube on October 20.

“So let’s not be complacent, let’s not just sit back and watch things unfold. Because somebody has to set the tone, someone has to take a stand. If not me, then who?”