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Trek statement expected on police bicycles used against people in US protests

Police officers use their bicycles to control the crowd during a demonstration, in response to the recent death of George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis, in Miami, Florida, on May 31, 2020
Police officers use their bicycles to control the crowd during a demonstration, in response to the recent death of George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis, in Miami, Florida, on May 31, 2020 (Image credit: EVA MARIE UZCATEGUI/AFP via Getty Images)

Trek Bikes president John Burke is expected to issue a statement on the use of bicycles as weapons by US police officers against protesters during the widespread Black Lives Matter marches across the US, according to Forbes.com. Trek are one of a number of suppliers of bikes to police forces in the US.

Within the cycling community, such negativity when it comes to a mode of transport and recreation that normally promotes health, wellbeing and vitality, and which is also environmentally friendly, is unacceptable, and Fuji Bikes already moved last week to suspend sales of bikes to the US police.

Various images and videos of police officers using their bikes as weapons and shields – seemingly having been trained to use them as such – have appeared online and in the media over the past week and a half.

On June 2, Burke – who has been president of Wisconsin-based Trek since 1997 – made his feelings clear about the cause of the protests in the US in a blog on the Trek website, and called for an end to the injustices experienced by African Americans all too often in his country, while proposing a War on Poverty Act to give young people in poorer families more opportunities with regard to education and employment.

According to Forbes.com on Monday, "Burke is expected to make a further statement on the issue on June 8, but informed sources believe divestment [of supplying bikes to the police] is not on the cards."

While that hadn't happened by the time of writing, the Forbes article implied that it could mean that Burke is nevertheless ready to take action following the widespread dissemination of videos of police officers using bikes – including Trek models – to control and intimidate protesters. In addition, a number of people have used social media to ask the company to reconsider its supply of bikes to the police.

The Forbes article also cited a letter that had been obtained, which was addressed to 'Trek Leadership' on June 5 by the company's own Trek Women's Advocate programme.

The letter broadly agreed with Burke's sentiments from his blog a few days earlier regarding oppression and inequality, but also stated: "There are zero non-white professional athletes on our teams. This isn't a mistake, this isn't an oversight, it's a product of a culture that has mistreated and violently oppressed people of color for centuries."

Regarding Trek's supply of bikes to the police, the statement called for the company to "completely divest from police departments nationwide, [and] cancel all police department contracts and sponsorships immediately".

It added that if such action was not possible, then Trek should "conduct a full independent investigation into the awarded department's history of excessive use of force" and "make said report available for public consumption".

Last week, Fuji Bikes announced that they were suspending the sale of their bikes to police due to the evidence of their misuse.

"To hear that there are instances where bicycles have been used as a weapon against those who are vulnerable, those speaking out against the unjust treatment of people of color, and those standing alongside them advocating change, has deeply upset our community, our company and the heart of the Fuji brand," a statement read.

"We have seen instances in the last week where police have used bicycles in violent tactics, which we did not intend or design our bicycles for," it continued, and added that sales would remain suspended until the company was "confident that real change is being made".