Following the unlawful death of George Floyd, hundreds of people gathered at the Santa Monica pier to protest against racial injustice on May 31.
Floyd died while in the custody of the Minneapolis Police Department on May 25 after one of the former officers kneeled on Floyd’s neck for nine minutes. The former officer has now been charged with 2nd-degree murder. Demonstrations against police violence and systemic racism have taken place in many major cities across the United States.
The march began at the intersection of Montana Ave. and Ocean Ave. and ended in front of the Santa Monica Pier. As tensions ran high, people of various racial backgrounds were using their voices through the language of protests.
One couple held a sign saying “Sikhs for Black Lives Matter” at the front lines of the protest. Jim Elvidge and Tashi Sammi were at the protest to speak out against oppression of any kind. Sammi is a Sikh, a member of a monotheistic religion originating in India, who recalled the many times Sikhs were harassed for for wearing turbans in America.
“We understand police brutality and discrimination, so we’re here to support our fellow black community,” said Sammi.
A few celebrities attended the march, as well. Timothée Chalamet, Blake Griffin, Madison Beer and Emily Ratajkowski were all spotted carrying signs and participating in chants.
“Activism goes beyond social media,” Ratajkowski, an actress and model with over 26 million Instagram followers, told Annenberg Media. “I want killer cops persecuted and the police system defunded and restructured.”
The peaceful protest ceased when police officers labeled the march as “an unlawful gathering” and told all protesters to leave within five minutes. Officers fired tear gas into the crowd to disperse the hundreds of protesters.
Despite facing stun grenades and clouds of tear gas, protesters persisted, still holding their signs and still chanting.
“I want to be heard, I want equality, and I want black lives to matter,” said protester Mel Peebles. Peebles’ sentiment is echoed in chants such as “Say his name! George Floyd!”, “Black Lives Matter” and “I can’t breathe” not only in Santa Monica, but also across the nation.
Correction 2:29 P.M.: A previous version of this story misspelled as source’s name. “Jim Velvidge” has been corrected to “Jim Elvidge.”
Further, the sentence, “Sammi is a Sikh, a member of a monotheistic religion originating in India, who recalled the many times Sikhs were harassed for for wearing turbans in America,” was corrected to clarify that Sikh women do not wear turbans. The sentence now reads, “Sammi is a Sikh, a member of a monotheistic religion originating in India, who recalled the many times Sikhs were harassed for for wearing turbans in America."