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Katie Compton: It's sad that police have used bikes as weapons in protests

Katie Compton
Katie Compton (Image credit: Getty Images)

Trek-sponsored Katie Compton has reacted to police bicycles being used as weapons against people in Black Lives Matter protests across the US with dismay and sadness. The 15-time US cyclo-cross champion has called on manufacturers to only sell bikes to police forces that follow the Campaign Zero recommendations to reduce police brutality.

"I find it really very sad that police have used bikes from any manufacturer as weapons during the protests. That is not what any manufacturer thought would happen when selling bikes to police forces since they are supposed to be used as a mode of efficient transportation and a way for people to be closer to the communities in which they serve," Compton told Cyclingnews.

International Black Lives Matter protests have erupted after George Floyd was killed by police during an arrest in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in May. Police officer Derek Chauvin, who knelt on Floyd's neck for over eight minutes, has since been charged with second-degree murder. Three other officers have been charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder.

US police officers have used their bicycles against people who are protesting against police brutality, systemic racism and justice for Floyd's death. Images and video footage have swept across social media channels showing officers holding up bike brands such as Trek and Fuji, and using them as weapons and shields.

BikeCo., the North American distributor for Fuji Bicycles, issued a statement on Sunday declaring that the sale of Fuji bikes to police forces has been suspended following numerous incidents. 

Trek Bikes president John Burke expressed concerns over police brutality and racism in the US, and called for justice in a recent blog on the Trek website. He was expected to issue another statement on Monday regarding the use of bicycles as weapons by US police officers against Black Lives Matter protesters. The company has been urged to divest from police businesses, according to a recent report in Forbes.

Compton confirmed that Burke has not yet made a statement to Trek-sponsored athletes.

'We, as white people, have lived in a privileged bubble for far too long'

Compton spoke out regarding the systemic racism and discrimination that African Americans and people of colour have experienced in the US for generations.

"As white people, we have been led to believe that police are there for our protection and to serve our communities and keep us safe. However, this is not the case for black people," said Compton. "We, as white people, have lived in a privileged bubble for far too long, and our black community is finally showing us what they have endured for generations.

"The systemic racism is ingrained in our culture, and things need to change. As painful as it is to watch how black people have been treated and the double standard that they have dealt with through so many years, I feel like our government, at least the Democrats, are starting to do what they can to promote change and to make this country better, equal and fair to everyone, no matter how dark one's skin is. That gives me some hope that change can and will happen."

Compton suggested two ways that bike brands could make long-term change in safer policing to reduce police brutality. 

The first is to commit to selling bikes to police forces that follow Campaign Zero – an organisation that offers 10 recommendations to end police brutality. She also suggested bike brands who sell to police departments should take part of those profits and donate to Campaign Zero.

"I think one possible way the bike industry could help facilitate that change is to commit to only selling bikes to police forces that follow all of the Campaign Zero recommendations to reduce police brutality," Compton said.

"They could also commit to donating their profits from those bike sales to Campaign Zero in order help fund that change. Police forces will continue to buy bikes and replacement parts, gear, etc. no matter what bike companies do to keep their bikes out of police hands, so if the bike industry can get behind a way to fund safer and anti-racist policing, maybe that is a way they can begin to make a positive difference."

Where to donate

These funds are set up to help protesters, the families of victims, and black businesses and charities around the United States and internationally. If you're able, consider setting up a recurring donation to one of the organisations below, to help provide sustained support beyond this moment.

Campaign Zero - Launched by Black Lives Matter activists, Campaign Zero is a national organization that works with law-makers at every level to end police brutality and systemic racism through thoroughly researched policy solutions.

Reclaim the Block - Founded in 2015, this group organizes the local Minneapolis community and city council to redirect funding away from the police department and into other initiatives that promote health and safety.

Black Lives Matter resources - The Black Lives Matter website linked here includes a comprehensive list of places to donate: To victims, protesters, black businesses, legal defense funds, and small and large fundraisers supporting black communities and the Black Lives Matter movement.

The Marshall Project - Nonprofit journalism "that seeks to create and sustain a sense of national urgency about the U.S. criminal justice system."

NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund - This is one of America's biggest legal organizations fighting for racial justice. Much of their efforts are focused on litigation, education, and advocacy.

Bail funds - An organized list of places to donate if you wish to contribute to bail funds going to arrested protesters in Minneapolis, Atlanta, New York, and many other cities. ActBlue will allow you to easily split a donation to many funds, but keep in mind the organization takes its own transaction fee.

Coming to terms with the events of this past week isn't easy. The violence and anger is, at times, almost incomprehensible. As we all struggle to cope and understand how we can make a difference, we've found some videos, books, and articles to be helpful. We've sought to include a mix of educational materials that provide context and expand understanding.

7 Virtual Mental Health Resources Supporting Black People Right Now -  For readers who need emotional support, writer Jesse Sparks has compiled a list of virtual mental health resources serving the black community. Also see Black Girls Smile's list of resources.

Bad Form Review's reading list - Books on systemic racism in America, the Black Lives Matter movement, social justice, and more, with links to independent bookstores. 

For our white friends desiring to be allies - Courtney Ariel's article is a great outline for white people who want to help lift up others without inadvertently making the conversation about them.

Anti-Racism Resources for White People - An exhaustive list of anti-racism media including movies to watch, essays to read, and people to follow to further educate yourself.

The Case for Reparations - A deeply reported article by Ta-Nehisi Coates that uses personal stories to explain the damage caused by centuries of racist government policy.