New This Year: Know Your Rights Trainings

News released on: 
Nov 19th, 2015

Youth Employees Marc, Hussein and Nick.

Dear Friends,

Joey Santana facilitating the Know Your Rights training

2015 has been an amazing year.  We added a new International Partner, Cycloville, a network of bike shops based in Nairobi, Kenya and we started Adult Earn-A-Bike, a new program modeled after our youth Earn-A-Bike but targeted at recent immigrants and formerly incarcerated adults.  But, one of the most exciting developments of the year has been a Know Your Rights training created by and for youth.  

Bikes Not Bombs supports everyone we work with, from youth in Boston, to mechanics in Ghana to farmers in rural Guatemala, to recognize and build their own capacity to transform their communities.  Our work is made possible by the contributions of our donors. We’re asking you to join us and support our self-empowering programs with a year-end gift.

The inspiration for creating the know your rights trainings began at our weekly drop in, Bike In. Nick Allen an Earn-A-Bike graduate,  is one of many young people who came to Bike-In and told us about how he and his friends have been harassed by the police while riding their bikes because of what they look like.  We began to document young people’s experiences and heard things like:  youth are being accused of stealing bikes; their bikes are being seized by the police; and, most commonly, that youth of color are receiving more police attention than their white peers.

The timing of hearing these stories is not coincidental.  With media coverage around Black Lives Matter and the cases of Michael Brown and so many more gaining national attention, youth of color feel it is more important than ever to share their experiences.  And at Bikes Not Bombs, young people realized that they are not alone, and that by sharing stories, action can be taken.

Earn-A-Bike Graduate Nick

Modesto and Abdul,  leaders in our Bicyclists Organizing for Community Action (BOCA) program, connected youth to legal assistance but it was obvious that we had to empower young people with the knowledge they need to feel comfortable talking to the police. Working with Makis, of the National Lawyers’ Guild, Carl Williams of the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts, and Andy Fischer,  a bicycle lawyer at Jason & Fischer, BOCA developed a training on the responsibilities of cyclists to follow traffic laws and their legal rights when interacting with the police.

In the words of Modesto, the trainings have been “really, really effective.”  But what’s the real impact? We asked Nick and he told us this story:

Nick was waiting for a friend in Brookline when he was approached by two officers who eventually asked if he was there to steal bikes.  Nick puts it bluntly, “because I was wearing a black hoodie and sitting on the Green Line, and there just happened to be a bike rack, they automatically assumed that I’m trying to steal bikes.”

“If not for the training I wouldn’t have known what to do, I wouldn’t have known what to say.  I would have been intimidated.” Instead he asked “Am I being detained?” and safely removed himself from the situation.  

The Know Your Rights training is now built into the schedule for each of our Earn-A-Bike and Girls In Action programs.  We’re working with partner organizations to spread the training throughout youth groups around Boston.  And we’re honoring Nick’s request to “wake people up” by sharing his story.

For three decades, we have been lucky enough to count on an amazing group of donors and volunteers.  Thank you.  This season we hope you will donate to a program that listens to young people and trusts them to create the trainings they need. This December join Bikes Not Bombs by contributing to our programs that support the self-empowerment of youth and adults in Boston and around the world.




With gratitude,

Jodi Sugerman-Brozan

Executive Director