The Westside remembers George Floyd with protests, memorials and paddle outs

By Christina Campodonico | Photos by Luis Chavez, Gunnar Kuepper and courtesy of Santa Monica Pier and Loyola Marymount University

A paddle out is a modern Hawaiian tradition in which surfers swim out to sea and honor the deceased with flowers, leis and skyward splashes of water.

On Friday, June 5 — five days before George Floyd was laid to rest in Houston — surfers and supporters honored Floyd’s memory, along with that of police brutality victim Breonna Taylor, during an afternoon paddle out ceremony in Santa Monica organized by Black Girls Surf.

With the Santa Monica Pier as backdrop, more than 200 surfers sent off the spirit of Floyd and sang “Happy Birthday” to Taylor, who would have turned 27 that day. They also rallied on the historically black beach known as “The Inkwell”, which is marked with a commemorative plaque as “a place of celebration and pain.”

In a mixture of passion and grief, Floyd’s life was celebrated and mourned at several demonstrations and remembrances across the Westside this past week.

On June 2, thousands of peaceful protesters marched along Abbot Kinney Boulevard and eventually made their way to the Venice Boardwalk. (Movie star Ben Affleck even made an appearance.)

On June 5, demonstrators took to the sands of Venice and Santa Monica, creating a lineup that stretched between the beach communities’ two landmark piers. That morning, medical workers at Kaiser Permanente’s Playa Vista location also took a knee and a moment of silence for Floyd.

LMU students and the surrounding community rallied for Black Lives Matter along Lincoln Boulevard on June 6. And Culver City saw two passionate protests over the weekend — one in downtown Culver City at the foot of the Kirk Douglas Theatre and another at Veterans Park organized by the city’s Vote16 youth voting initiative.

A memorial on Sunday, June 7, at First Baptist Church of Venice (see page 10) capped off a week filled with moments of silence for Floyd, chants and cries for change. The movement and the message continue…

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