As Usher’s hit single “Yeah!” blared through the speakers, groups of people on bikes gathered near Columbus Park to rally through the Austin, Oak Park and Maywood neighborhoods Sunday morning to call for justice and peace across the city.
The event, organized by Illinois state Rep. La Shawn Ford, also sought to bring awareness to the 2020 census, specifically on Chicago’s West Side. Tables with free masks, T-shirts and informational materials about the census were set up throughout the park. Several people danced to the “Cupid Shuffle” and stretched for the bike ride, expected to go up to 13 miles, according to organizers.
“We’re riding for justice, and we’re riding to boost the census,” Ford said. “We all have to work together for peace in this city.”
Lyft provided free Divvy bikes for the bike rally, and around 100 people joined the event.
State Rep. Emanuel “Chris” Welch spoke about the need for the community to mobilize and use the census to better their communities.
“The census is so important in what we do,” he said. “It’s about resources and representation, the census helps us do that. In our community, justice is blind. We have to make sure our voices are heard.”
Katrina Thompson, the mayor of Broadview, added that the census can be completed in minutes.
“Do not go under the radar and expect elected officials to carry you. Help us carry you,” she said.
Donning a pink sweatshirt with a portrait of Breonna Taylor, Jillian Caru, of Roseland, was prepared to bike the full route in her honor. The rally followed a week of peaceful protests after a Kentucky grand jury decided not to charge any Louisville police officers for their role in Taylor’s killing.
“Breonna Taylor lost her life and no one has been held accountable for it,” she said, adjusting her biking gloves. “This is the way I chose to lift my voice, not just as a Black woman but as a person who considers herself to be a freedom fighter.”
For others, the rally also proved to be a chance to uplift the voices of those on the West Side.
“I’m here to show support and prove that we can make effective change in our city and this country,” said Candace Bell, of Englewood. Bell added that she filled out the census earlier in the year.
Christopher Goins, of Woodlawn, said he was happy the rally made residents more aware of the importance of filling out the census.
“This is my third protest, and I like to ride my bike so this was the perfect marriage of my interests,” he said. “I plan to do the whole ride.”
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