Hamptons surfers join ‘National Paddle Out’ to honor George Floyd

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Published in The New York Post on June 6, 2020

Surfers gathered in the Hamptons Friday for a totally rad, on-the-water memorial for George Floyd, the Minneapolis man whose police custody death has galvanized protests around the country.

While hundreds marched at Ditch Plains Beach in Montauk, more than 100 local surfers gathered in the ocean to remember Floyd by joining in a “National Paddle Out” — a term used by surfers to pay respects when one of their own has died.

Some of the surfers decorated the rockers of their boards with the Black Lives Matter hashtag.

Around the country, others also participated in the event — which was organized by Black Girls Surf.

In California, more than 200 paddled through choppy waves to form a circle and chant Floyd’s name nine times to mark the nearly nine minutes his neck was pinned down under ex-cop Derek Chauvin’s knee.

Surfers also sang “Happy Birthday” to Breonna Taylor, a black EMT who was killed in her own home by Kentucky cops in March.

Rhonda Harper, the founder of Black Girls Surf, said she organized the national event because of a “lack of awareness and empathy in the surf community.”

“I have a lot of white surf friends who don’t get it or are so privileged that they don’t have to mourn the loss of a black life. They’re talking about waves being beautiful and there being too much negativity in the world,” Harper told The Associated Press.

With Post wires