The event included Hawaiian leis placed in the water and on land memorializing Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, who died May 25 in Minneapolis, Minn., after Derek Chauvin, a white police officer, knelt on his neck for almost nine minutes while he was lying face down handcuffed on the street.
Floyd lost consciousness and later died. That officer, and two others, have since been arrested and charged with complicity in Floyd’s death.
The Black Lives Matter paddle-out organizer, Risa, addressed the huge crowd of attendees, surfboards in hand, before paddling out with them.
“All 50 states and 18 countries have participated in the Black Lives Matter protest, which makes this the biggest civil rights movement in world history,” said Risa. “If you look around you see unity, you see peace, you see love, you see empathy. This is not an Instagram challenge or a popular hashtag that will fade away when we all get distracted by the next big thing. This is the big thing. Changes are happening. This is a stand against racism.”
Added Risa: “We are not born racist. We are not born with hate. It is taught down from generation to generation. But this generation standing here today is putting a stop to that now. We will no longer tolerate it.”
Pointing out “black people aren’t usually associated with the posterboard surfer,” Risa noted people of all walks surf “because it brings us unity and peace.”
Risa noted that “a black man should be free to jog in his own neighborhood without being gunned down. A black child should be able to walk to the store to buy candy without being hunted. A black woman should feel safe in her home, instead of being murdered where she lay her head.
“If a black person is accused of a crime they deserve a fair and speedy trial just like everyone else, not an automatic death sentence. So many black people have spent their last breathe begging to live.”
Continued Risa: “George Floyd couldn’t breathe. But we still can. So let us breathe for him. Let us speak for him and everyone else that has been affected by racism. I ask that you all walk this Earth in unity. Please use your voice. Please speak up.
“Don’t get distracted by the next big thing because change is a big thing. We are the citizens of the United States of America, land of the free.”
Added Risa: “Freedom does not judge my color, race, or religion. We’re all humans. And if we mess up this Earth – we have nowhere else to go. So I suggest everyone walk with love, and peace, and help one another, have compassion, and love one another.
“We all spent eight minutes and 47 seconds of our lives watching a black man get murdered on film. It broke us down. It made a lot of us sad, angry, for some of us, it caused division. So I’m asking everyone to spare another eight minutes and 47 seconds of your life to heal, to love one another. Hold up your fists and let’s take a moment.”