LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - From California to Indonesia, Australia and Senegal, black girls and supporters floated on surfboards on Friday to pay tribute to George Floyd, the black man whose death in U.S. police custody has sparked protests worldwide.
The “Solidarity in Surfing” events in more than 100 locations were organized by Black Girls Surf, a group founded in 2014 to teach the sport to girls of color aged 5 to 17.
In Santa Monica, California, about 200 surfers of various ages and races gathered under cloudy skies on a stretch of beach once known as Inkwell Beach, a place where black Californians sought an oceanfront refuge in the 20th century.
The event was meant to honor Floyd and others who were victims of police brutality, said Sayuri Blondt, 29, a local coordinator for Black Girls Surf.
The surfers waded into the water for a paddle out, a traditional Hawaiian ceremony to celebrate the life of someone who has died. About 200 yards offshore, they held a moment of silence while floating on their boards in a large circle, and placed yellow, pink and red flowers in the water.
Some had written “Black Lives Matter” on their surfboards. Panpan Wang, 37, displayed the names of black people killed by police on his chest.
Rhonda Harper, who founded Black Girls Surf after seeing that black women were underrepresented among professional surfers, said the group aimed to show “there can be solidarity in all of this violence.”
“I wanted the young girls to see that people do really care,” Harper said via phone from Senegal.
One person on the Santa Monica beach asked how others could support Black Girls Surf. Blondt said the group would welcome donations of surfboards or wetsuits.
“When you are out in the ocean surfing and you do see a woman of color, just be friendly with her and help her to feel welcome in the ocean,” she said. “That’s the biggest thing.”
Reporting by Lisa Richwine; Additional reporting by Lucy Nicholson; Editing by Leslie Adler
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