Elijah Evans and Peter Cheung lead riders through Nubian Square. Banner photo
At the head of a procession of several dozen cyclists, Peter Cheung towed a trailer with a loudspeaker blasting pro-Black anthems. Fifty yards back, cyclists chanted “Black Lives Matter,” as the procession made its way down Boylston Street toward Copley Square.
It was the second outing this year for the Ride for Black Lives, and cyclists decorated their bikes with signs in support of the Black LBGTQ community in honor of Pride Month as well as with anti-police brutality slogans.
The rides began in June of last year when cyclists and organizers sought to bring more awareness to the challenges facing Black and Latino people in Boston, according to organizer Elijah Evans, a co-director at Bikes not Bombs, who spoke to the Banner as cyclists gathered at the ride’s start point at White Stadium in Franklin Park.
“One of our core values at Bikes not Bombs is solidarity,” he said. “I feel like we do that here very effectively by bringing people together from diverse backgrounds to build our power.”
A key aim of the ride is to give social justice groups and individuals a platform to build solidarity and support for their causes.
As cyclists gathered outside White Stadium, organizers sought support for a movement to cut $120 million from the $400 million Boston Police Department budget and invest the funds in community anti-violence and youth support programs.
“I grew up in Roxbury,” said Erica Cannon, police reform organizer and a member of the Boston Cyclists Union. “It’s really important that we invest in programs that help our young people.”
Candidates for City Council Tania Anderson and Ruthzee Louijeune also addressed the gathering, sharing their stories. Anderson spoke about growing up in Roxbury as a Cape Verdean immigrant, landing in a homeless shelter with her younger siblings while she worked her way through college. She asked the gathering to support her efforts to free her husband, who is serving a life sentence for a homicide she says he didn’t commit.
Louijeune, who grew up in Mattapan and has attended several of the Ride for Black Lives events, shared her experiences fighting for low-income housing as an attorney representing affordable housing organizations.
Last year, several of the rides were focused on the Black community in Boston, traveling through Roxbury, Dorchester, Mattapan and Hyde Park. Last Saturday’s ride went through some of the whiter sections of Boston, including Jamaica Plain, the South End and Back Bay.
“We’re prioritizing going to more affluent, gentrified communities,” Evans said. “What we’re trying to do is make sure we go to the places where people need to hear our messages.”
Aside from shade thrown by a few impatient drivers, the cyclists received honks and waves of encouragement as they made their way through the city Saturday.
After passing through Jamaica Plain and Mission Hill, the cyclists rode to Copley Square, then headed through the South End to Blackstone Park, where they paused before taking Washington Street through Nubian Square and Walnut Avenue back to White Stadium.
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