Hundreds vow to ‘Take Back the Bike Path’ after sexual assault
Hundreds gathered Thursday night to show solidarity for a woman who survived a brutal sexual assault and beating early Saturday morning on the Capitol Bike Trail.
“There’s just a terrible and painful feeling in my gut that this happened to somebody while they were just living their normal life,” event organizer Dayna Long said. “It didn’t end with just this one incident. And that’s why we’re here tonight. Because this is much larger than one bike path and one woman.”
Long said she felt compelled to post her Facebook event because she wanted to call her community to action.
“We don’t often notice when rapes occur between people. It’s the most common form of sexual assault,” Long said. “So the scariest thing to me is we’re actually in the middle of an epidemic.”
Braving severe weather, the crowd marched from Burr Jones Field to Central Park. Along the way they left their mark with anti-rape signs in an effort to increase safety awareness.
Young mom Jess Plaviciki said the crime hit so close to home she felt compelled to bring her 6-month-old baby son Arlo out to march.
“Preventing violence against women starts with teaching young men to respect woman,” Plaviciki said. “I use that running path for running and biking. I have spent many, many hours training for running events. So to me it is a place of solitude. And the fact that something so violent happened on it is horrifying.”
Marquette Neighborhood Association President Lynn Lee said association members are now committed making sure the lights on the trail stay on overnight.
“It’s dark. There’s a lot of overgrowth. It looks scary. I think for anyone it looks scary. But especially walking alone,” Lee said. “It’s a safety issue. And that’s what we’re going to be working towards.”
The neighborhood association said they will give donations collected at the event to the district attorney’s office so the victim has help paying her bills. Lee said they hope the small gesture shows the victim she is not alone.
Beyond support for the victim, organizers also hope by marching the community can once again feel like the path is a safe place.
“I really want them to feel like this is our bike path,” Long said. “What happened there cannot take away from the fact this is a community space where they deserve to feel safe all the time.”