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Surfers participate in a paddle out ceremony at "The Ink Well," a beach historically known as a surfing refuge for African Americans, to honor the life of George Floyd on Friday, June 5, 2020, in Santa Monica, Calif. Floyd, a black man, died after he was restrained in police custody on Memorial Day in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)


By Chris Milligan

          Santa Monica, Calif. (AP) – Before the era of Civil Rights, a beach shore was nicknamed “The Ink Well” for its popularity among the black community. It is here many surfers come pay tribute to George Floyd and other members of the black community that have been killed by police.

          The Black Girls Surf organized what is called a paddle out, a Hawaiian tradition that commemorates a person’s life and mourn their death. Along with remembering George Floyd, BGS also wanted to share with other surfers their feelings of not always being welcomed.

          Surfers of every ethnicity and age group formed a massive circle under a gray sky close to the Santa Monica Pier and chanted George Floyd’s name nine times to represent the almost nine minutes his neck was under the knee of the Minneapolis police officer.

          “This speaks so much more to people because if you think about black girls surfing in the ocean, people are like, ‘Ha, ha, you don’t surf,’” Sayuri Blondt said. “But when you see everyone coming out to support us, it sends a message in a very unusual way and catches people’s attention.”

          One surfer, Giovanni Douresseau, told fellow surfers of a time when he was mistaken for a criminal and almost arrested while surfing for the first time. The video of Floyd screaming that he could not breath reminded Douresseau of the ways he had seen police treat his family.

“We don’t just see George Floyd. We see us,” Douresseau said speaking out to the other surfers just before going into the water.

About Chris Milligan

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