(WSVN) - Life in the inner city can be violent, and as young kids grow into teens, life-changing choices are made. As 7’s Craig Stevens tells us, one man in Liberty City is working to make sure those choices are good ones, by encouraging kids to pick their bikes up and put guns down for good.
They come to ride. Kids, bonding over bikes, and bad times.
Dwight Wells, Bikes Up Gunz Down: “When I say King, y’all say Carter.”
Chanting the names of those lost to senseless street violence, so their young lives are never forgotten.
Dwight Wells: “When I say Jada, you say Page.”
Dwight Wells wants the killing to stop. That’s why he started “Bikes Up Gunz Down.”
Dwight Wells: “We started off with the kids on the bikes, doing tricks, and I seen that bikes was always a part of our culture. Keeping a gun out of their hands is the main objective, and that’s what we’re all about.”
Dwight knows how violence ruins lives. When he was younger, he spent 10 years in prison for second-degree murder. While he was behind bars, a friend’s baby was killed in a shootout. He says that changed him forever.
Dwight Wells: “Eighteen months old and shot directly in the head with a AK-47. And when I was in that institution, behind those walls, I told myself, I said, ‘When I get back out I’m going to change Miami-Dade County.'”
Now, he makes it his mission to keep kids busy on their bikes, organizing group rides where they learn about black history.
Bikes Up Gunz Down instructor: “OK, this graveyard where we at right now, Lincoln Memorial Park, it was built in the 1950s.”
After school, he coaches the serious riders.
Dwight Wells: “We go up to the roof, go up to the roof and practice. We use the area to ‘cat walk.’ They learn various tricks.”
Teaching tricks like “cat-walking,” riding with one wheel up.
Oscar Lopez: “It makes me feel alive, free.”
Sixteen-year-old Oscar Lopez has been in the group for four years.
Oscar Lopez: “Bikes bring bonds. It was hard for me to, like, fit in. But then I just fit in with the pack, and it was just like a good experience for me, and it still is.”
The teens practice every day, perfecting their tricks.
Jayquan Hill: “I’m in my own world, you know. “It’s just me and my bike — nothing else. It’s like a stress reliever. It’s like a pill.”
Under Dwight’s watchful eye, they work off their daily frustrations and have fun.
Duran Hill: “My parents, they think it’s the best thing I ever did ’cause, you know, it’s a lot of kids my age and younger than me picking up a gun instead of a bike. That’s the wrong thing to do.”
Every time they get together, they remember why they’re here.
Dwight Wells: “What is the motto for Bikes Up Gunz Down?”
Teenagers: “Bikes Up Gunz Down, it’s more than a movement, it’s a lifestyle. Everybody wants to live. Nobody wants to die.”
Dwight Wells: “We just taking it one day at a time. We changing lives one day at a time.”
Dwight says the group’s main goal is to see the murder rate for young people in Miami-Dade County decrease in the coming years.
Copyright 2017 Sunbeam Television Corp. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.