“Ride outs were built to create safety for our youth. We ride in packs to minimize the possibility of being hit by cars. We ride together because it creates bonds in our community. Because so many of our young Black and brown men are locked out of society due to racism and records, bike culture creates a space to help bring us back into community.“
Friends of Jhamal Gonsalves, who was severely injured in a chase involving the Providence Police Department on Sunday have issued a statement of support:
“We are the organizers of the ride out that took place on October 18, 2020, during which Jhamal Gonsalves was hit by a Providence police vehicle and badly injured. Many of our riders were present and witnessed the vehicle hit Jhamal.
“We are writing to check the racist, criminalizing narrative that has already been pushed by police and media that Jhamal was part of a dangerous mob.
“On average, the people in the Rhode Island biking community are around the age of 21; they are overwhelmingly Black and brown men; many rely on bikes as their only means of transportation; many have been targeted by the prison system and have records. Young people in our communities start biking around the age of four and become part of the culture as they grow up. This culture is not only part of our communities here in Rhode Island but for some us, the countries that we come from.
“Ride outs were built to create safety for our youth. We ride in packs to minimize the possibility of being hit by cars. We ride together because it creates bonds in our community. Because so many of our young Black and brown men are locked out of society due to racism and records, bike culture creates a space to help bring us back into community.
“We have been organizing ride outs for four years in an effort to bring our community together and build relationships with one another. We have ridden together in protest of police brutality. For the last three months, we have organized bikers to register and vote around the upcoming presidential election. This most recent ride out was meant to encourage our neighborhoods to pick up their bikes and put down their guns.
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“Jhamal is somebody who participates in the community ride outs. He is a painter and makes custom scooters. He is a young man who is looked up to by teenage riders and very well respected by all in our community. He is a professional, sponsored motocross rider who can jump twenty feet in the air on a bike. His control of a scooter is second to none; he has the balance and control of a ballerina. Jhamal would not have been thrown off his bike if not for the police vehicle that aggressively hit him.There was a police officer standing by Jhamal’s bed in the hospital last night as though he is the threat. The police are the threat. The police hunted down our friend, dragged his body after throwing him off his bike, are standing ready to take away his freedom. Do not allow the state to distract us from the real perpetrators of violence in our communities.”