Milwaukee Marchers Complete 750-Mile Trek To 'Get Your Knee Off Our Necks' Event In D.C.

by Leah Groth

A group of activists, led by Frank ‘Nitty’ Sensabaugh, traveled 750 miles from Wisconsin to D.C. to protest police brutality

Today, thousands of protesters gathered at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. for “Get Your Knee Off Our Necks” March on Washington — a march that not only calls for criminal justice reform and racial equality, but also honors the 57th anniversary of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” address. Among those protesters in attendance? A group of activists that walked and drove 750 miles from Milwaukee, WI to the nation’s capital in just 24 days — and to say the trek was tough would be an understatement.

Led by activist Frank “Nitty” Sensabaugh, approximately 20 men, women, and even children, arrived in Washington D.C. on Friday, according to USA Today, after “enduring blistered feet, arrests, harassment and a spray of gunfire” over the course of three-plus weeks.

“It’s indescribable,” Sensabaugh told the outlet. “I was crying for a while. I was tired because I haven’t slept in three days. Then I was crying again.”

The group embarked on Aug. 4, planning on making it to D.C. by Aug. 28 for the Get Your Knee Off Our Necks Commitment March on Washington. During their journey, their mission became more important than ever after 29-year-old Kenosha man Jacob Blake was shot in the back several times by police officers, leaving him paralyzed from the waist down.

“This march was meant to happen because look what’s happening in the state of Wisconsin,” Tory Lowe, a Milwaukee-based victims advocate and co-organizer of the march told USA Today. “This is why we’re marching. It brings validation to the fact of why we ever started this march in the first place.”

The journey hasn’t been easy. While many have been supportive of the group, including police officers who have escorted them around cities such as Chicago, Lowe revealed that “areas with less diversity” weren’t quite as welcoming. “Some people were saying go home. People would write things on the ground. They were pissed,” he added.

Sensabaugh and Lowe were arrested by Indiana State Police on day nine, remaining in custody for several hours due to fact that they were blocking traffic. Most disturbingly, the group was shot at while walking through western Pennsylvania, injuring Sensabaugh’s body guard. “A white male just came out of nowhere, and our security was shot,” said Lowe.

“The property owners confronted the activists. The confrontation escalated, and gunshots were exchanged between the property owners and the activists,” Pennsylvania State Police Trooper Brett Miller said Tuesday.

“It’s been a spiritual journey, and it’s an eye-opening journey for many of us because we’re seeing outright racism as we walk,” Lowe said. “It’s been 24 days, and every day is something. Not one day have we been out here and someone hasn’t thrown racial slurs.”

Overall, the activists have been pleased with the support they have received on their journey.

“It was amazing, and the spirit of humanity was alive,” Lowe said. “There are some people working to change things in these communities as well.”

The group didn’t walk the entire way, utilizing a car caravan and taking shifts. However, they amped things up during their final days. “I marched 82 miles yesterday,” Sensabaugh said. “We just did it.”

At 7:30 this morning, the group of 60 people arrived in D.C. — joining the thousands of other attendees.

Also in attendance at the gathering in D.C. are Rev. Al Sharpton and Blake’s father. Speakers include relatives of both George Floyd and Breonna Taylor.

While the Milwaukee group may have reached their destination, they maintain their journey is far from over.

“There’s a lot of joy, happiness, and relief. Between being tired and overwhelmed with emotions, I’m at a loss for words for the first time in my life. I’m trying to soak it all in,” Sensabaugh said. “We just marched 750 miles from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, 24 days to get here because we’re not going to stop until we get change. We’re not going to have our kids marching. This is it.”