On Friday, May 29, 2020, protestors gathered in front of the Hawaii State Capitol for a Black Lives Matter demonstration in honor of George Floyd and in protest of police brutality.
On May 25, a video was released that exposed former Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin, kneeling on George Floyd’s neck.
Floyd said, “I can't breathe” as Chauvin continued to apply pressure to his neck. Nearby bystanders begged Chauvin and other officers at the scene to check for a pulse after Floyd became unconscious.
Floyd died shortly after on the scene as a result from his injuries.
Chauvin was arrested on May 29 in Minneapolis and is being charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
With homemade signs and banners reading, “Justice for George Floyd,” “I can’t breathe,” “white silence is violence,” and similar statements, participants peacefully stood in front of the capitol as allies of the black community.
Students, professors, and community members alike stood in solidarity with many of them holding up the black power fist as cars passed by honking their horns in support.
“The systematic racism that’s been happening in our system has been going around our nation for years and it's time to stop it. Minnesota is what is making people put their foot down. Keep educating people about the difference we can make,” said one organizer of the movement, Kaylan Bray.
According to Zoe Aoussou, the other organizer of the Black Lives Matter rally, the idea to organize the event started with just her, Bray and a few friends.
“We just decided to take it upon ourselves, just us two, to do signs and reach out to friends and whoever came, came, and whoever didn’t at least we were there to start the conversation. And then it got on Facebook and kind of turned into this. This is so awesome, great to see the solidarity,” said Aoussou.
This movement was started to protest the disparities the black community face. Protestors argue that these disparities have been magnified by the current pandemic.
“During COVID-19, when people are having trouble breathing because of the virus, that’s bad enough, but all the violence that makes it difficult for black people to breathe to the point that they’re killed continues often under the cover of COVID-19 and it’s got to stop,” said University of Hawai’i at Mānoa professor, Cynthia Franklin.
Riots and protests continue to ensue across the country, many of which have escalated with protestors looting stores and setting fires to surrounding businesses and buildings with police spraying mace, tear gas, and enforcing curfew hours.
“As far as the protests is concerned, it’s basically righteous. The video shows blatantly that the guy [Chauvin] was trying to kill him [Floyd]...the outrage is righteous. I mean what are you going to do?” said demonstrator, Masaki Hirota.
Similar protests and vigils are being planned in Hawai‘i in the coming weeks as communities show their solidarity with victims of racial violence and police brutality across the nation.
Shafkat Anowar is currently a junior concurrently majoring in Communications and Business (Management Information Systems). He is passionate about photojournalism. One day, he dreams to join the White House Presidential Press Pool.
Esther Kim is the Editor in Chief of Ka Leo. While she is a Bachelor's of Social Work student, she has a passion for writing and wants to use journalism in conjunction with social work to progress conversations surrounding social justice and equity.