More than 100 people stood in solidarity this morning at the state Capitol to protest against the killing of black man who died under the knee of a Minneapolis police officer this week.
The rally followed nationwide demonstrations to protest against police killings of members of the black community.
Demonstrators said they were hurt and frustrated with the incident that occurred on Monday.
The demonstrators, who all wore masks, lined up on the South Beretania side with fists raised high along with signs that read, “No justice, no peace,” “When police murder, who are you gonna call?” and “Am I next?”
The organizers of the demonstration, Zoe Aoussou and Kaylan Bray, said they were surprised that many people came to support the cause.
“We’re here to stand in solidarity for our black brothers and sisters who are faced with police brutality, and who lose their lives on a regular basis,” Aoussou said. “We’re here to show our support even though we have to fight through this pandemic. We need to remind the mainland (about) the spirit of Hawaii.”
On the curb side, demonstrators wrote in chalk, “#ICAN’TBREATHE”.
Those were the words of George Floyd, 46, who was pleading for air as three Minneapolis officers stood over him. One officer had his knee on Floyd’s neck.
The incident was caught on video by bystanders. The footage rapidly circulated through social media, which caused a national outrage.
“I can’t breathe,” Floyd cried in the video footage. “Please your knee is on my neck. I can’t breathe.”
“He’s not even resisting arrest, bro,” a bystander said off-camera.
Floyd said he couldn’t breathe a few more times, then moments later – silence.
Honolulu resident Jordan Jackson, 21, said she feels numb to the violence that she sees in the black community.
“Growing up as a black person in America, you get desensitized to the violence, so I wasn’t surprised when I saw all that stuff blow up on Twitter,” Jackson said. “I’m glad at least it got to a breaking point where everyone started getting together and protesting.
“It’s taken way too long,” she continued. “This was a big issue four years ago, and it’s kind of sad that for 400 years black people have been fighting for a right to matter, yet we’re still here fighting for the same stuff.”
Kaneohe resident Maliek French, 19, said he is fed up “with nothing being done.”
“I was raised here so I didn’t grow up with a lot of other African-American culture. … But I’m getting sick of this,” French said.
French added that he feels there is a distrust between the police and the black community. However, he said that Hawaii isn’t as bad as the mainland.
“I can go on walks at night without explicitly worrying about getting pulled over,” French said.
Jackson said racism will still be around.
“I think anybody can be racist,” she said. “It doesn’t really matter. Casual racism is a huge issue here. People drop the ‘N word’ like it’s whatever, but it’s not.”
The protest continued until noon before the crowd dispersed.
“We’re here to show that each state needs to take a step into action in order to make changes with the systematic racism that exist in our society,” Bray said.