In the UK, years of austerity have pushed people to their limits and youth violence has been on the rise. BikeStormz, a movement of young bikers, attempts to offer a safe and welcoming space. However, new forms of conflict arise when police and “concerned citizens” threaten arrest for their very existence.
In a country where years of austerity have pushed people to their limits, and racism and prejudice are ingrained in the systems of authority, violence incubates, and inequality persists. Starting as a protest against violent crime with the slogan “knives down, bikes up,” BikeStormz, founded by social activist Mac Ferrari-Guy, has since grown into a movement and safe space for young people around London to be free and express themselves. Filmmaker Alice Russell beautifully captures groups of young people as they glide through the city, doing wheelies, tricks, acrobatics and cheering each other on as they hurtle through the postcode-neutral space of central London. Yet as they come together and find liberation through biking, they are challenged with the threat of arrest by the police and accusations of anti-social behaviour.
“If the Streets Were on Fire affirms the importance of communities taking local action and provides a candid critique on how police and government often poorly respond to positive youth-led initiatives.”
- Bede Sheppard, Deputy Director, Children’s Rights, Human Rights Watch
“BikeStormz are legendary, powerful, inspirational. They’ve inspired me. They’ve inspired many people.”
- Stormzy, Musician