It’s not unusual to find surfers meeting up at Rockaway Beach in queens to catch a wave.
On Saturday morning, a couple hundred gathered on the sandy shore near Beach 73rd St., but this time, it is more than their love for the ocean water that brought them together.
“I want to always support Breonna Taylor and victims of police brutality, especially when led by black people,” said Trae Higgs, a surfer.
Higgs joined the morning paddle out organized by the East coast chapter of the Black Surfers Association to protest the killing of Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old Black woman who was shot by Louisville police on March 13 while they executed a no-knock search warrant.
The group paddled the equivalent of 13 blocks to represent the date she was killed.
“We don’t want to do just the typical paddle out. Those 13 blocks that you paddle, it’s going to make you think how she was asleep in the house, dying for no reason. For sleeping, pretty much,” said Lou Harris, founder of the East coast chapter of Black Surfers Association.
The surfing association, which has about 50 members, previously organized a protest for George Floyd. They paddled eight blocks, one block for each minute it is estimated police kneeled on his neck.
The surfers on the water were supported by a small crowd that cheered and chanted from the beach.
“Paddle outs in general in a lot of surf communities are about things that are important to them. When they lose loved ones, they paddle out with them and I thought it was a great thing to combine that with police brutality,” said Higgs.
Darlene Blander traveled from East Flatbush to support the paddle out. It’s her first time joining surfers at the beach for a social justice cause.
“The cops, yes, they have a responsibility, but the greater responsibility are the people who sent them there who gave them wrong information. I think those guys need to be brought to justice, they need to be investigated, the need to face consequences,” she said.