A Toronto citizen is riding 46 kilometres daily to honour the life of George Floyd and bring awareness to racism.
Floyd is the 46-year-old Black man who died on May 25 in Minneapolis during a police arrest. The officer was charged with murder.
On the 25th day of his 46-day ride on June 23, Matthew Cuesta rode with a group of Toronto Police officers and civilians on their early morning fitness ride.
“I don’t understand the anxieties and stress that police go through, but I respect what they do,” he said. “I just want to bridge the gap by getting the community to understand the police and they understand us.”
The product of a Jamaican mother and Maltese dad has been subjected to discrimination.
“I grew up Black and I have faced it,” said Cuesta, who is a recreational cyclist. “Having any discussion about racism and discrimination is an uncomfortable conversation for some people. There is no blanket solution for racism, but I believe it has to start with us and within our hearts and looking deep within ourselves to find out if we have prejudices and do something the change that.”
Insp. Hank Idsinga and his group of recreational riders have been doing early morning rides for the past few years around Rosedale and Bayview Ave.
“Matthew usually does his 46-kilometre daily ride around the Exhibition Grounds loop and one of the members of our group contacted him asking if we could join him one morning for the ride,” said the Homicide Unit Commander. “On June 19, a group of our guys went down to Exhibition Grounds and rode with him and invited him to come up and ride with us on our circuit. He agreed and the ride was enjoyable as we rode and chatted.”
The police officers expect to ride with Cuesta before the end of his journey.
“As police officers, we certainly welcome opportunities to engage the community and listen to what they have to say,” Idsinga said. “We also want to be part of any movement that will bring about positive change and that’s one of the reasons why we relished our ride this morning. Having the opportunity to ride with Matthew shows that we are unified in the fight against racism.”