In a statement published on social media, the store, Mellow Johnny’s, confirmed that it will be walking away from its contract with the city of Austin two years before its scheduled conclusion.
“In the context of the current evaluation of community policing in Austin, we have decided to no longer purchase, re-sell, and service police-issue Trek Bikes and accessories under a City of Austin RFP the shop was previously awarded,” the shop said.
The contract -- originally signed by the store and the city’s police department in 2019 and valued at $314,000 -- would have the business supply and repair bikes for the Austin Police Department over an initial three-year period, with the option to extend.
According to the bike shop, they arrived at a decision after a discussion with its employees, as well as after checking in with the community on how they can “do their part” to keep their customers safe.
“Businesses can no longer be non-participants in the communities they serve,” Mellow Johnny’s said in a statement, adding that the shop’s management chose to commit to an action that they think will do the most to “suture these divides and place our community on the right side of history.”
The shop maintains, however, that they are not “anti-police,” as others have alleged, noting that they have received threats after APD officer Christopher Carlisle posted about the cancellation of the contract on his social media.
“The ownership of MJ’s has decided to listen to three employees and is sending APD an email canceling the four years left on our contract because three employees do not like police officers and did not like us in the store,” Carlisle said in a now-deleted Facebook post, where he alleged that some of the bike shop’s employees had previously complained to ownership about the department’s use of bikes in crowd management.
“We are not anti-police. We do believe our local police force will protect us from the very threats we are receiving right now,” Mellow Johnny’s Facebook post said.
Aside from Mellow Johnny’s, Trek, the manufacturer of the bikes that Armstrong’s shop would have supplied to the police, has also issued a statement, noting that it has come to their attention that Trek bikes were being used by the police in ways that are “abhorrent and vastly different from their intended use.”
“The past two weeks have turned the view of police on bikes from a community asset to a liability,” the company said, referring to several images that have emerged online of police using bikes as weapons against protestors aligned with the Black Lives Matter movement.
Mellow Johnny’s, as reported by the local press, is not a stranger to taking stances related to highly politicized issues, with the store joining other retailers in 2018 in a massive boycott against Vista Outdoors in the wake of the mass shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
The boycott, which was also joined in by other sporting goods retailers, was due to the brand’s ties to the National Rifle Association (NRA). (Related: Goya Foods, Red Bull prove companies can RESIST “woke” mobs – who’s next?)
“We have had to make these choices before when we felt companies whose products we sold put kids at schools at risk of violence,” Mellow Johnny’s said.
Lance Armstrong, who founded Mellow Johnny’s in 2008, is best known for falling into disgrace after Floyd Landis outed Armstrong and other USA Cycling teammates for using illegal performance-enhancing drugs and blood transfusions.
The outing has since led to a landmark United States Anti-Doping Agency investigation, with the USADA putting the Armstrong front and center of what is referred to as the “the most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program that sport has ever seen.”
Armstrong, a seven-time Tour de France winner before he was stripped of all his yellow jerseys, has been banned from the sport for life. In addition, the disgraced cyclist has developed testicular cancer? — a disease many consider to be a result of his doping back in his prime.
Despite the controversy surrounding the cancellation of their contract with Mellow Johnny’s, the Austin Police Department still enjoys contracts and partnerships with 10 of the city’s local businesses, according to city records.
One of the businesses, Alamo BMW, noted in an email that they are in full support of the police and that their business will honor any contracts awarded to them.
“We back the blue 100% and think they deserve the full support of the people they protect, particularly under the current circumstances,” Alamo BMW said.
Lucille’s Catering, meanwhile, in an interview with NBC affiliate KXAN, said that they would continue to provide food for Austin Police’s Citizens Academy, noting that it is important to build trust between the police and the people of Austin.