London stabbings bring thousands of cyclists onto streets for protest: 'I want to see my friends again'
More than 50 people have been killed in the capital this year
The large group of youngsters rode on a mixture of BMXs and mountain bikes from London Bridge to Oxford Street as part of the #BikesUpKnivesDown campaign against violence in the UK.
The "BikeStormz" event saw as many as 4,000 cyclists take part as they rode through central London.
Saturday's event was organised by 19-year-old "Jake100" and "MAC", who both promote the bike culture through bringing everyone together.
"MAC", told The Independent: “This is the biggest ride out for the youth against knife crime. We want people to put the guns down, put the knives down and for everyone to love their life, live their life and be peaceful and respectful. Never leave your house with a bad intention.”
The movement started in 2014 as a major ride in London which welcomed youths as young as nine. The community has since grown and received the backing from the Metropolitan Police and the London Mayor’s Office.
Bike Life TV, who is also part of the movement, is a bike community that describes themselves as giving bikers "the exposure and recognition they deserve, whilst breaking down social barriers and building bonds all through the love of bikes".
Last night an awards ceremony was held at City Hall to reward those young riders.
Handing out the accolades was "Jake100" and 13-year-old Ruby Bailey, who has been riding with BikeStormz, and is the only female rider in the Street Elitez bike community. Speaking at the ride today, she told The Independent: “This is the big ride of the year. We all get together and there are people from Birmingham, Cardiff and all over the UK.
“We’re not here to cause trouble. Everyone thinks we are, but we’re not. Some of the people here used to be involved in knife crime, but since they got on their bikes, they switched their lives around and stopped using knives.”
The event welcomed communities from every corner of the UK and from all ages, including 38-year-old "Ice", who is also a member of Street Elitez.
He said: “We’re out here in a positive movement. We are born to educate and the best message is to put knives down, bikes up. Ride as one, we are all family. We have the same interests at heart, let’s share it and enjoy it. Weapons down, we are born to love people and share each other’s love.”
Fourteen-year-old MJ, who is from west London, said he came to the event to socialise with people he had met online and to be in a safe space. He added he was scared of losing his friends to crime and was pleased to see police supporting the event.
“I’m here for fun, nothing else. We are not doing anything bad. I decided to come here instead of doing bad stuff, because I don’t want to see my friends all over the news. We do this instead.
"We don’t want stuff like that to happen. I want to see my friends the next day. I want to remember my friends the next day. I want to see my friends forever. I don’t want to be that kid who goes through life like ‘oh I’ve lost a lot of friends’.”
This year has seen 55 deaths in London, including 17-year-old Tanesha Melbourne-Blake who was gunned down in Tottenham on Monday, while six teenagers were stabbed within 90 minutes two days later.
The head of the Metropolitan Police, Cressida Dick, has denied her force has lost control of London’s streets but admitted that the violent crime sweeping through the capital was “very worrying”.