ENCINITAS, Calif. – Thousands gathered Wednesday evening at Moonlight State Beach in Encinitas for a paddle out to celebrate George Floyd’s life and take a stand for change.
Lifeguards estimate anywhere from 3,000 to 5,000 people took part in the powerful demonstration.
Before the paddle out began there was a long moment of silence: eight minutes and 46 seconds, the amount of time Floyd was held down for before dying. X Games host and former Encinitas resident Sal Masekela recited some of Floyd’s final words during the moment of silence.
Local organizations involved in organizing the event included Textured Waves, Kindhumans, and Changing Tides Foundation.
“We’re here to be peaceful and we’re here to unify here for everybody and I think that’s key in this country. We need to remember who we are, we need to remember united we stand divided we fall,” said Justin Wilkenfeld, co-founder of Kindhumans.
After the meaningful moment of silence, surfers made their way to the ocean for the paddle out, something very special in the surfing community and usually done to honor a life lost.
“It’s definitely something that I care about. My two loves: my culture my surf community, so bringing those two together and marrying them in a beautiful way in a tribute in the form of a paddle out there’s nothing more sacred than that,” said Danielle Black Lyons, co-founder of Textured Waves.
People held signs and surfers wrote messages on their surfboard. There were flowers and fists raised in the air in unity proving people showed up in just the way organizers were hoping.
“It typically ends in a sort of celebratory jovial moment where we are trying to really bring a positive energy in a positive light back into something that’s pretty dark,” said Wilkenfeld.
The City of Encinitas helped fast track a permit for the peaceful gathering where social distancing and masks were still encouraged. Lifeguards told FOX 5 it was the largest gathering they had ever seen without any kind of incident.