At 4:30 p.m. on the afternoon of May 31, some 300 people paddled out to honor the lives of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and the others who've been killed by police brutality and acts of racism. The paddle out took place at Launiupoko Beach Park on Maui.
"In Hawaii, when someone passes, you paddle out," wrote JD Pells, co-organizer. "You paddle out to honor their life and their contribution. You paddle out to pay respect. Participants held hands in a show of solidarity, they shed tears and spread flowers. The event lasted through a golden sunset, as cars began to trickle back onto the highway."
Bailey Rebecca Roberts, a 31-year-old photographer, organized the event. The week prior, she created a flyer that was distributed on social media. According to Pells, she wanted to show solidarity with protesters around the world who have risen up against police brutality.
"I've never done anything like this before," Roberts said after spearheading her first organization effort. "I just wanted to break that excuse cycle of non-action. I was sitting in my apartment one day and felt a tickle in my heart to organize this gathering."
On the previous day, another peaceful demonstration happened at the Hāna Highway, Haleakalā Highway intersection.
"Roberts hopes that the paddle out facilitates two major takeaways," Pells explained. "She hopes the event plays a role in a chain reaction to where others feel empowered to take action within their own communities. Secondly, she wants to encourage people to extend themselves in new ways to facilitate actions of alliance and support for one another."
"In this new moment of what we're coming up against, it's going to take vision and community," said Roberts. "That doesn't exist in some antiquated sense of being. Broaden your sense of the world, actively. The responsibility is on all of us."