About a hundred people gathered at Virginia Lake with their bicycles for a Black Lives Matter bike ride on Friday evening. Demonstrators filled multiple lanes of traffic as they rode through Midtown and into downtown Reno, ending at the BELIEVE sign.
A majority of the bike riders were white. A few individuals attached signs to their bikes and backpacks, including one sign that said “Say Their Names” with the names of African Americans who have died at the hands of law enforcement.
Some demonstrators, like Reno resident Diana Torres, rode to bring awareness to racism in the cycling industry.
“There’s a lot of racism within the bike industry and within various bike shop culture. It’s very heteronormative. It’s very male-dominated,” Torres said. “We’re here to just show our solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement, and to say that we’re not here for this anymore.”
Torres wants to see more support for Black athletes and bike riders.
“Black athletes largely are just not supported or seen,” Torres said. “There’s not a lot of people of color (POC), or black people holding positions, like higher positions, in various bike companies. Black athletes aren’t sponsored by various companies.
“There’s so many advocacy groups that fail to address the racism and the white privilege that they are afforded via just being able to ride their bike safely,” Torress added.
The ride was organized by a small underground bicycling activism community called Goathead Killahs.
One of the members of Goathead Killahs, who wished to remain anonymous, told This Is Reno they also hope the bike ride demonstration shines a light on racism in the cycling industry.
“The bicycle industry is inherently racist, and classist, and it tends to be sexist as well,” the organizer said. “We just want to show that cycling in general is more complex than that. It can be very sustainable. It can help people get to work.”
They said they planned the ride to prevent the Black Lives Matter movement from slowing down in the Biggest Little City.
“It just kinda felt like, there’s this thing that happens in Reno a lot, where I feel like movements tend to fizzle a little bit, and I don’t want to sound rude, or anything at all with that, I just get worried about that,” the organizer said.
The organizer said they were impressed with the turnout, as there are only a handful of people who ride regularly with Goathead Killahs.
The organizers kicked off the bike ride by standing on a table to rally the crowd before the ride began. They condemned law enforcement’s use of bicycles.
“[Bikes] are not weapons to use against protesters as we’ve seen in the media,” one said.
Redistributing funding from law enforcement
Another bike rider, Ellis, who did not want to provide her last name, said she is riding her bike to protest injustice and said she wants to see funds reallocated from law enforcement into the community.
“Police do not need to be dispatched to a homeless person, that’s clearly a mental health crisis, police [don’t] need to be there. Someone with experience in de-escalating situations like that, and can help the person get the care they need is where they need to be,” Ellis said. “I very much respect what the police do, where it’s needed, but they’re put places where they’re not needed and aren’t meant to be.”
The bike ride was also joined by several roller skaters, though it was a challenge for them to keep up as the bike riders zoomed up and down hilly streets of Reno.
Adam Benedict rolled up in skates and wants the community to acknowledge that police brutality against people of color occurs in Reno too. Benedict also wants to see funding redistributed from law enforcement.
“To communities that just have forever been marginalized, who haven’t had the resources that are necessary; black communities, especially homeless communities, things like that, where it’s just people who haven’t been appreciated or who’ve been ignored essentially by the system,” Benedict said.
Black Lives Matter before White Lives Matter
Reno resident Nicky Dyal had the words “Black Lives Matter” painted in blue on the back of her t-shirt.
“I’m white, and it’s really important for white people to finally show that they care about people of color, black people, especially right now,” Dyal said.
Dyal said outside of demonstrations, she is striving to have conversations about being more accepting of people who are different, with the people in her close circles.
“I think that I affect change the best, other than by voting, is by the conversations I have with my friends and neighbors in Reno, because I know that they might feel differently than I do,” Dyal said. “For me, I find it really important to take the time, to make conversations that show where I model tolerance, and respect, and where I take the time to explain how I feel, but also listen to how other people feel.”
Dyal said those conversations usually surround why it’s important to say “Black Lives Matter” instead of “All Lives Matter.”
“Black people have been shit on for the last 400 years in this country,” Dyal said. “All lives, other than Black people have been supported by society, and our economy, and our government in many, many ways, and black people’s lives have not been supported by our government, and our society, and our power structures.”
Dyal and about a hundred others rode through downtown Reno, chanting Black Lives Matter. Peacefully and with no police presence, the demonstration ended in front of the BELIEVE sign, near a boarded-up Reno City Hall.
Lucia Starbuck is a graduate of University of Nevada, Reynolds School of Journalism. She has reported on issues impacting Northern Nevada, including the affordable housing crisis, a lack of oral healthcare and challenges voters with disabilities face while trying to participate in the election process. She has directed and filmed two documentaries about homelessness.Through reporting, Lucia strives to shine a light on the challenges vulnerable populations face in our community.