After police officers around the country were seen using bicycles as weapons, thousands of people are demanding that bike companies stop supplying police forces and diversify their business practices. Some bike companies are listening.
“At this time, we are suspending the sale of Fuji Police bikes until a conversation with these departments has occurred,” Fuji Bikes wrote in an Instagram post on Friday. The brand’s North American distributor, Bikes Co., is temporarily “suspending the sale of police bikes,” a representative confirmed.
The announcement came in the wake of a petition that asks bicycle companies to stop supplying bikes, service and equipment to the police, and to increase diversity in hiring, marketing and sponsorship. The petition, initiated by Defund Bike Police, has now garnered over 5,000 signatures.
During recent national protests against police brutality, law enforcement officers have utilized their bikes in an unprecedented, violent way against peaceful demonstrators. “The officers have weaponized the bicycle itself, using bikes as shields and, more often, battering rams,” writes Jody Rosen wrote for The New Yorker.
On Twitter, people have captured bike cops “unleashing tear gas, shooting pepper spray, tossing flash grenades, and pummeling protesters with batons,” Rosen observed.
After an NYPD officer used his bike to combat demonstrators during a protest in Union Square on May 28, Fuji denounced the “violent tactics” and asked police forces to make proper use of their bikes. “In an effort to make real change, we are beginning a dialogue with police departments nationwide to address how bikes are used in police activity and to ensure that police’s on-bike training reinforces that bicycles are not a weapon against our community,” Fuji representatives said.
Fuji’s initiative was welcomed on social media, and people on Instagram and Twitter urged Trek to follow their lead.
After looters broke into the Trek Bowery store in New York on May 31, Trek Bicycles CEO John Burke shared a statement in support of Black Lives Matter but has apparently chosen not to halt their sales to US police.
It may be me but your plan doesn’t seem to address the thing that has come up most in the last week; the use of your bikes as weapons by violent police officers pic.twitter.com/aGQKzEyxn5— Jon (@joninsocal) June 9, 2020
“Recently we have seen photos and video of Trek Bikes that have been used by police in ways that are abhorrent and vastly different from their intended use,” said Trek regarding police bikes.
On Wednesday, June 10, Trek announced six new reforms, arguing that “Black lives matter and that Black, African American, and other people of color throughout this country do not have the same opportunities that white people have.” The company committed to creating 1,000 cycling industry jobs for people of color, to establishing a $1 million Community Investment Fund, and to bringing bikes, jobs, and stores to underserved communities.
Specialized Bicycles has pledged $10 million over the next three years to their nonprofit, Outride, whose mission is to “build the next generation of riders through school and youth development programs, as well as providing access to safe places to ride.”
“Our first step was acknowledgement – Our next step will be along a lengthy road,” the brand wrote on Instagram.
At press time, the petition initiated by Defund Bike Police had received around 5,300 of a desired 7,500 signatures. “If the cycling industry is truly taking an oath of solidarity with Black Lives Matter, we cannot stand for police assaulting and brutalizing protesters with their bikes,” the petition reads. “We cannot stand for police stealing protesters’ bikes to trap them in situations that are unsafe due to the police’s violent reaction to protesters.”