Hundreds of cyclists dressed in red, representing the blood of minorities spilled on the streets of the United States due to racism and police brutality, took to the most iconic sites of New York this Saturday, shouting at the top of their lungs, “No justice without there is peace “. The protesters also shouted the names of the latest people to have died at the hands of the Police, such as Daunte Wrigh, a 20-year-old African American who died after being shot by an agent who mistook his pistol for the taser pistol, or Adam Toledo, a 13-year-old Latino who died with his hands up and unarmed. The police officer who shot him said he believed he had a gun.
From the Brooklyn Bridge to Fifth Avenue, through Central Park or Times Square, cyclists paralyzed traffic on key streets. After 22 gears, Street Rides NYC formed a team of about 30 volunteers, some were “blockers”, in charge of cutting the streets with their vehicles to ensure that no cars cross the march, and others went through the protest from beginning to end to ensure that the pace was unanimous.
There are only two cyclists positioned crosswise in the southern part of the Brooklyn Bridge and responsible for blocking traffic on the nearly 500-meter walkway while hundreds of cyclists raised their fists in the air and others put their fingers out of the helicopter from the police.
The pedaling activists who participated in the protest ranged from two-year-olds sitting in pushchairs on their parents’ backs, to retirees. “The last year has been incredibly violent towards people of color, whether they are black or Asian, in this country. It is a national shame that this is constantly happening. The only way I can think of that I can help is by going outside. It also releases frustration, “said Hyon Mi Chang, an Asian-American in her 50s. It was the first time that I participated in this type of protest.
Will Pattersos said he started pedaling in May of last year after George Floyd’s death and that, after stopping for t he winter, he got back on his bike this March when the trial against the former US official began. Minneapolis Police Derek Chauvin, charged in his death. “It is good to go out, do something with the community and defend something that is bigger than oneself,” said the African American.
The key for David Foote, a young publicist who has customized his helmet with the initials of the Black Lives Matter movement, is in “perseverance” and “continuity” and uses Rosa Parks as an example. On December 1, 1955, she refused to give up her seat to a white man and move to the back of the bus in Alabama, for which she was arrested. This African American activist had to wait until December 21, 1956 for the Supreme Court to declare the segregated buses unconstitutional, a move that was taken after the African-American community carried out a 381-day boycott.
The response of other New Yorkers to these protests is usually positive, drivers cheer by honking their horns or sticking their fists out of the windows and passersby clapping or taking photos. According to one of the organizers of the Street Rides NYC team, Rico Washington, anything can happen during a protest. That is why the role of blockers is key. “In addition to stopping traffic, they are in charge of maintaining visual contact with them -the drivers- and of, if they have any questions, tell them what is happening, such as that the march will cut traffic for just a few minutes and not half hour or an hour, “explained the African-American activist.
Washington also points out that only the team members know what the route will be, since they only share the starting point of the protests on social media. The protests on wheels can take between four and five hours.
Unlike the marches last year, this year the protests have not only focused on denouncing violence against the African-American community, but also against other minorities such as Asians. In the XXI march, held on March 27, the color of the shirts was yellow and the slogan: “Solidarity March Against Hate: From Chinatown to Chinatown“.