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Trek's response to police use of bicycles criticised by Trek Women's Advocate members

A protester holds up his hands in front of a row of police officers during a rally in response to the recent death of George Floyd an unarmed black man who died while in police custody in Minneapolis in Miami Florida on May 31 2020 Thousands of National Guard troops patrolled major US cities after five consecutive nights of protests over racism and police brutality that boiled over into arson and looting sending shock waves through the country The death Monday of an unarmed black man George Floyd at the hands of police in Minneapolis ignited this latest wave of outrage in the US over law enforcements repeated use of lethal force against African Americans this one like others before captured on cellphone video Photo by Ricardo ARDUENGO AFP Photo by RICARDO ARDUENGOAFP via Getty Images
A protester faces a line of police officers holding Trek bikes during anti-racism and anti-police brutality protests in Miami last week (Image credit: RICARDO ARDUENGO/AFP via Getty Images)

After earlier issuing a statement on its "commitment to a better future" in response to how US police forces have used its bikes during Black Lives Matter protests, Trek continue to face criticism for how it has dealt with the issue, with a member of the Trek Women's Advocate group calling the company's response "lip service."

On Wednesday, the US bike manufacturer outlined several initiatives and funds to create more cycling industry jobs for people of colour, to open stores in underserved neighbourhoods, and to create a more inclusive culture at the company.

The moves, while calling how US police forces have used their bikes "abhorrent", have stopped short of Fuji Bikes' actions last week. Fuji's US distributor BikeCo. announced on Saturday it would stop selling bicycles to police departments in the country.

One member of the company-run Trek Women's Advocate – who wished to remain anonymous – said that Trek's response has "missed the mark."

"We're disappointed to say the least," she wrote in a message sent to Cyclingnews.

"While the statement of intent regarding diversifying the industry is well meaning, and while some of the steps they've committed to taking will make a difference in the long run, they've missed the mark by not taking a harder stance on law enforcement agencies whose police officers are abusing their positions and using bikes as a weapon.

"The paragraph they've shared with us essentially says they believe that bikes shouldn't be used in this way, or that they hope they wouldn't, but doesn't address the fact that they are. It's all lip service."

Earlier this week, eight members of the Trek Women's Advocate group, which counts over 100 members across the globe, penned an open letter to Trek leadership calling on the company to "completely divest from police departments nationwide" and cancel contracts immediately.

"A public stance is not enough," read the open letter, which was published by Forbes. "We need immediate action to make cycling more welcoming to people of colour. Representation matters. The majority of Trek's leadership is white. 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 colour for centuries."

Trek's pledges, announced on Wednesday, include investing $2.5 million over ten years a new retail management and bicycle mechanics training scholarship program for 1,000 people of colour and the establishment of a $1 million Community Investment Fund to help entrepreneurs of colour.

The measures, which also include a $5 million investment over three years to build bike shops in underserved neighbourhoods, were decried as "laughable" by the Trek Women's Advocate member. 

"Back to the public statement, a few of the steps they've outlined are really just about opening more Trek stores and selling more bikes," she told Cyclingnews

"And they talk about expanding into underserved neighbourhoods but the reality is the people living in these areas largely will not be able to afford their bikes. It’s just laughable."

Cyclingnews has contacted Trek for comment.

Clarification: An earlier version of this article omitted the fact that the open letter sent to Trek management was signed by eight members of the Trek Women's Advocate group, who count over 100 members among their number.

Cyclingnews has been contacted by three other members of the Trek Women's Advocate to clarify the above details, adding that the open letter was not supported by the majority of the membership.

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 organizations 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.

What does the demand to "defund police" mean? What about "prison abolition?"

You probably won't hear mainstream politicians discussing these ideas, but you may see them on protest signs. If these demands are new to you, abolitionist @jaybeware briefly explains them in a Twitter thread which provides links to books and essays that expand on the topics. Also see the book 'Are Prisons Obsolete?' by Angela Davis.

If you plan to join a physical protest, here are some useful links to make sure you have everything you need to stay safe. What to bring to a peaceful protest - Vice's guide on what to take with you to a protest.

Protect your protest - An in-depth plan for keeping yourself and others safe during a protest.

How to Cop-Proof Your Phone Before Heading to a Protest - Gizmodo's how-to on protecting your phone data.

ACLU Know your rights - Everything you need to know about your rights as a protestor and what to do if you're detained by the police.