Fort Wayne’s first Bike Ride for Black Lives drew about 200 cyclists to Tillman Park on the city’s southeast side, including Alaysia Williams – although she had to rent a bike to participate.

The 19-year-old from Fort Wayne said that’s just how much the cause meant to her.

“My motivation is that I would like to see our community come together,” said Williams, who is Black. “It’s not about violence and shootings. It’s about educating our community, and helping our young people.”

Organizers said the event was put together by a new group, Fighting Injustice and Racial Matters, or FIRM. The group came into being after the protests in reaction to the death of George Floyd at the hands of police in Minneapolis. The Urban League assisted in hosting.

The ride spanned 8 miles on trails, symbolic of the 8 minutes and 46 seconds a police officer’s knee was on Floyd’s neck as he died, organizers said. 

Kameron Bynum, 22, of Fort Wayne said he hoped the ride would spawn more like it and bring “positivity” to the city.

“I’m here because I love the camaraderie of our people,” said Bynum, who is serving in the Army and between deployments works as a correctional officer at Allen County Jail.

“I feel a lot of us haven’t seen a lot of positivity in our community,” he said. “We’ve just seen a lot of deaths and misabuse of Black lives.”

Colleen Pion, 29, of Fort Wayne and participating with Ben Schoch, 31, of Fort Wayne, said she is an avid cyclist who rides about 9 miles on trails every day.

“It’s like two things I’m passionate about put together, so it was made for me,” she said. “It will be a lot more fun than riding by myself.”   

Schoch, 31, who, like Pion, is white, said he attended the downtown Fort Wayne protests and is committed to the Black Lives Matter cause.

“I just think it’s pretty obvious we have a problem with racism and a problem with police brutality,” he said. “And when those two collide, I just think it’s a situation that should be seriously looked at and needs to be resolved.”

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