Trek Bikes is facing increased pressure to end its support of police in the United States.
The US-based bike-building giant has contracts to provide bikes for a number of police forces across the Atlantic, with Trek drawing fire after officers have been filmed using the machines as weapons and shields in confrontations with protesters.
While Trek’s president has released a statement after the death of George Floyd, the company has been criticised for not addressing its dealings with police.
A group of eight Trek ambassadors have penned an open letter to the company bosses, calling on them to end the support of police departments in the US and to fund and support the Black Lives Matter movement.
The letter, signed by member’s of the Trek Women’s Advocates schemes, said: “A public stance is not enough. 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 nonwhite 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.”
The death of George Floyd, which has resulted in a murder charge for Minneapolis ex-police officer Derek Chavin and aiding and abetting charges for three other officers, has sparked Black Lives Matter protests across the world.
Footage from the US has since emerged showing officers using bikes as riot shields and batons against demonstrators.
In New York an officer was filmed using his bike to ram protesters.
Miami Police shared also video of their “elite bike response team, which uses Trek bikes to “handle large crowds”
In their letter, addressed to Trek leadership, the advocates said: “You’re 100% right, we need big changes. And it has to start with bold action. Anti-racism training and strategies must be implemented without tokenization, without further exploiting generational trauma. We must create an environment that is inviting and inclusive to racial, ethnic, and language minorities across the board. The requirements set forth below will be a step in this direction, it’s where the journey starts to dismantle the structures and barriers that have excluded so many for so long.”
Another US-based bike builder, Fuji Bikes, has already suspended its sales of bikes to North American police due to the “violent tactics” used by officers.
The letter sets out six ways Trek can dismantle these barriers – publicly supporting and funding Black Lives Matter, addressing the violence of police officers on bikes, divesting from police forces, investing in black athletes, improving diversity at executive level, and introducing inclusivity training.
In a statement released on June 2, Trek President John Burke said: “George Floyd’s murder should be a wakeup call to actually do something that will provide real hope and real change for millions of Americans…now is the time to ask the hard questions, have the difficult conversations, and create the big ideas. If we do that, then we might find real justice.”
Burke also set out a number of “national economic objectives” for the US.
This week Trek was expected to make a further statement announcing a new plan, but the announcement has not yet arrived.
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Alex Ballinger is editor of BikeBiz magazine, the leading publication for the UK cycle industry, and is the former digital news editor for CyclingWeekly.com. After gaining experience in local newsrooms, national newspapers and in digital journalism, Alex found his calling in cycling, first as a reporter, then as news editor responsible for Cycling Weekly's online news output, and now as the editor of BikeBiz. Since pro cycling first captured his heart during the 2010 Tour de France (specifically the Contador-Schleck battle) Alex covered three Tours de France, multiple editions of the Tour of Britain, and the World Championships, while both writing and video presenting for Cycling Weekly. He also specialises in fitness writing, often throwing himself into the deep end to help readers improve their own power numbers. Away from the desk, Alex can be found racing time trials, riding BMX and mountain bikes, or exploring off-road on his gravel bike. He’s also an avid gamer, and can usually be found buried in an eclectic selection of books.
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