Baltimore, MD, USA
The Twelve O’Clock Boys — a group of renegade dirt bike riders named for the signature trick they pride themselves on, frequently transform the streets of urban West Baltimore into a playground for their dramatic and dangerous athleticism. These documentary images aim to celebrate and raise awareness about Baltimore’s unique culture.
Weaving between traffic, performing for local residents, girlfriends and family members, the ‘pack’ rallies the community and brings people together. Motivated by a combination of showmanship, asserting freedom, the drive to solidify their community and stake a claim to the streets, they take an 'all for one, one for all' mentality in their weekly rides. Some ride simply to prove their prowess as an operator of a powerful machine, but others seek to assert themselves as political actors. Playing a dangerous cat and mouse game with the Baltimore Police Department, the alluring pull to be included in this wheelie elite is felt most acutely by youth like 'Pug,' a 14 year old boy who dreams of one day riding with the pack.
Although some in Baltimore see the practice as reeking havoc to public safety, the recent rise in exposure of systemic police brutality in the city, public protests, and a rise in community awareness have further canonized The Twelve O’Clock Boys as standing for a message of social progress. Though, the controversy surrounding this now legendary group continues.
- Noah Rabinowitz, 2014