George Floyd Paddle Out at Leadbetter Beach
Hundreds participate in a “CommUnity” Paddle Out off Leadbetter Beach on Saturday to honor George Floyd and Black Lives Matter. (Felipe Garcia / Noozhawk photo)
Christopher Ragland

Christopher Ragland organized the paddle out through social media platforms. (Felipe Garcia / Noozhawk.)

A Santa Barbara memorial for George Floyd took to the ocean on Saturday morning as hundreds participated in a “CommUnity” Paddle Out at Leadbetter Beach to pay respects to the man who was killed while in police custody in Minneapolis last week and to support the Black Lives Matter movement.

An estimated 250 participants of all ages grabbed surfboards, stand-up paddle boards, boogie boards, surf skis and kayaks, floated out about 150 yards off shore and formed a large circle. There were speeches and prayers offered.

Paddle outs with similar messages have taken place at other beaches in California.

The peaceful event was organized by Santa Barbara’s Christopher Ragland through social media posts.

“I’m organizing #paddleoutsb to bring my community together and honor death, celebrate life and feel a part of a movement that affects us all,” Ragland, 30, wrote in a Facebook post. “The purpose of this Saturday is not to feel guilt or privilege, but to realize that you have support and can contribute by holding up your end of the bargain in our society. This is the first step, coming together to build trust and hold each other accountable.”

He called Saturday’s event “unity in the most authentic form.”

Ragland said he was impressed by the turnout, considering he doesn’t have a large social media following, he admitted.

Paddle Out circle for George Floyd and BLM

The paddle out was organized through social media and drew participants of all ages. (Felipe Garcia / Noozhawk photo)

“I’m not a like an influencer,” he said with a laugh.

Ragland graduated from UCSB in 2012 and has lived in Santa Barbara for 10 years. He is a functional trainer, working with people who suffer from chronic low back pain.

“This is way out of my lane,” he said of organizing a protest. “But at the same time, I think what I do is help people solve a problem, and a lot of it comes from emotional trauma or having to face things in your life that I firmly believe you bury for a long time and they sort of manifest in your body.”

Ragland said he was pleased to see so many younger people participate in the protest.

“I think having kids here, to be able to remember something like this, is great,” he said. “As far as seeing so many people come together so quickly around one thing, that’s what it’s all about.”

Leadbetter Beach during George Floyd Paddle Out.

The Saturday morning paddle out drew nearly 1,000 people to Leadbetter Beach and about 250 paddlers. (Felipe Garcia / Noozhawk photo)

— Noozhawk sports editor Barry Punzal can be reached at Follow Noozhawk Sports on Twitter: @NoozhawkSports. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.