With Palestinian flags attached to bikes and watermelon bandanas, a few dozen cyclists gathered in Robinson Park in support of a cease-fire in Gaza on Saturday, Jan. 6.
The Gaza Sunbirds are a para-athletic cycling team that, since the war with Israel, has transitioned from cycling to providing aid and distributing resources to their community. Tannia Esparza, a co-organizer, said the ride in Albuquerque was in response to a call by Native Women Ride for people across the nation to ride in solidarity with the Gaza Sunbirds.
“We're going to need places to ground us and to hold our collective grief, and we're also going to need spaces like this where we can uplift each other and re-energize with hope, to move our bodies, to ground ourselves with the land that we're a part of that sustains us and to build community with each other because it doesn't stop at a ceasefire. The work is ongoing,” Esparza said.
Since Oct. 7, the Gaza Ministry of Health has reported over 22 thousand Palestinian deaths, and since Oct. 13, more than a million Palestinians have been displaced, according to Al Jazeera. In October, Al Jazeera reported Gaza faced severe shortages of basic necessities and a lack of access to humanitarian aid due to the ongoing war with Israel. On Dec. 15, Israel announced they would temporarily reopen an access point, Al Jazeera reported.
The existing strength of the relations of the Queer and Black Indigenous – People of Color (BI-POC) centered biking collectives in Albuquerque like Cosmic Cycles and StoryRiders — provided them the tools to organize together to bike for a cease-fire, Esparza said.
“It feels (like a) really important call to do through biking, which has historically been a sport dominated by white people and white men, and it's a big deal that the people who are putting this on across the country are primarily led by BI-POC cyclists,” Esparza said.
The functionality of a bike allows it to be a tool for access and mutual aid efforts. Co-organizer Landis Pulido discussed the various ways a bike can be used with a basket or pull a cart and how it is an affordable mode of transportation, referring to Freewheel Mobile Aid in Albuquerque — a mutual aid group that distributes necessities to unhoused folks weekly.
The way biking collectives can serve as mutual aid — community-based support and resources — goes beyond the functionality as well, Pulido said, as it also provides a space for folks to come together in a community to honor the earth.
“Think about movement, and moving our bodies, moving our Spirit, moving our breath, as part of our collective medicines to take care of each other. Even more so during these times that we're witnessing genocide across these lands, across these waters,” Pulido said.
Ongoing action in solidarity with Palestine is important to keep the war prevalent in people’s minds., Alheli Caton-Garcia said — a cyclist and community activist who attended the bike ride. Organizing around common interests like biking, Caton-Garcia said, can both increase attendance and allow for the formation of lasting community relationships.
“It's important to show up and continue to disrupt things and make everyone aware that this is still happening. I'm sure that people know, but continue to spread awareness. It's important that all people on all occupied lands receive liberation and get justice. Real justice,” Caton-Garcia said.
Get content from The Daily Lobo delivered to your inbox
The ride was attended by individuals of all generations. Caton-Garcia, who rode with her father, said attending actions with family can allow for intergenerational activism to occur and to best address the issues people of all ages face.
“With an intergenerational modality — if you live in that way — you can get liberation not only for the young children but the parents, grandparents, great grandparents and continue to make sure that we are collectively – not just as a community, but as a family – engaging in efforts to liberate one another,” Caton-Garcia said.
Showing up in solidarity with a movement can exist in many ways, Pulido and Esparza said. The goal of the ride was to continue to form a community, create spaces for collective resistance and show support to Palestinian people.
“Solidarity can look like biking, can be through conversations, going to solidarity actions, having writing sessions, being able to even sit with water and prayer, and in connection to the multitude of survival and resilience across these lands and to our people,” Pulido said. “Even more so, knowing that Palestine is here with us and we're here with them.”
Maddie Pukite is the editor-in-chief at the Daily Lobo. They can be contacted at email@example.com on Twitter @maddogpukite
Maddie Pukite is the 2023-2024 editor of the Daily Lobo.