Uncovering scraper bikes in West Berkeley

Emauj Roos, Gianni Brown, Freddie Leary, Markez Robinson and Faheem Cokes.

When West Berkeley’s Church Without Walls got a small grant from the San Francisco Foundation, the idea was to paint a mural. But when that project fell through, the church tried to give the $2,000 back. “Do something artsy in West Berkeley,” was the reply.

Freddie Leary.

So senior pastor Dana Cunliffe and filmmaker Chrissy Dodson decided to make a short film interviewing people in their West Berkeley neighborhood. But they were sidetracked when they encountered the enthusiasm of middle schooler Markez Robinson, who regaled them with the story of how he and his friends had made some scraper bikes last summer.

Scraper bikes — old bikes that are exuberantly decorated and painted — originated in Oakland, and have been widely popularized by local rapper Trunk Boiz (see also the video Scrapertown).

Cunliffe and Dodson had found their story. They decided to recreate the summer scraper bike project by filming Robertson and his friends. “This is a great story about friendship,” Cunliffe says.


The resulting 10-minute film will be shown at Church Without Walls’ Saturday night outdoor movie night tomorrow, Saturday September 11. The movie night starts around 8 p.m.

Emauj Roos.

The church has been holding Saturday night outdoor movie nights for the last seven years, according to Cunliffe. The movie nights take place at the closed-off corner of Allston and Tenth Street, and draw up to 200 moviegoers who are treated to free popcorn and lemonade as well as the movie. “It’s a great way for the neighborhood to come together,” she says. “And we’re also kind of taking back Tenth Street Park.”

Cunliffe expects a particularly large crowd tomorrow to see the local boys and the film. Following the short, the main feature will be The Princess Bride (“Inconceivable!”).

Photos by Laura Wong