Hundreds of people walked the Farmington River Trail in Canton on Saturday afternoon in response to sexual assault on the popular trail earlier this week.
Kalia Kellogg, of Canton, organized the “Take Back Our Trail” event on Facebook, and told NBC Connecticut that walking the trail together was a show of unity and support for the woman who was raped on the trail on Tuesday.
“This is a gathering of love, a gathering of saying ‘we are here, this is our neighborhood, this is our trail. We are here to reclaim this space,’” she said.
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The gathering was also intended as a message that women will not bow to violence.
“We know this happens too many times to too many women,” she said.
Police are still searching for the suspect and updated his description on Saturday to a white male with short brown hair and an unshaven face, who stands between 5-feet 7-inches and 5-feet 9-inches tall, and is a slender to medium build. They believe he was wearing a gray t-shirt, and could have been wearing a black hoodie and black basketball-style shorts.
The suspect may have been wearing sunglasses at the time and carrying a small white dog.
Police said previously that a dog may have distracted the victim, who went off the trail and into the woods where she was assaulted.
Olivia Eckert, of Canton, said she is concerned for her safety on the trail as long as the attacker remains at large, but felt moved to join the walk. The 19-year-old wanted the survivor to know that what happened to her could happen to anybody.
“It doesn’t matter how old you are, what you’re wearing. It doesn’t matter what you’re doing and if you’re being cautious or not,” she said.
Tracy Eckert, a Canton-based psychotherapist, read aloud to the group from a statement she said the survivor prepared for her.
Jane Doe, as she referred to herself, thanked the community for their support. Her ultimate message was simple. “People shouldn’t rape people, period. End of story,” it read.