High school kids protest killing of George Floyd, clean up looting damage daily

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Cleo Riley introduces student speakers at a Students for Floyd protest on Saturday in Pan Pacific Park. Credit: Thibeaux Hirsh.

Students from Immaculate Heart High School decided to join the thousands of Angelenos protesting against police violence and the killing of George Floyd. Last week, they started Students for Floyd, an LA-based youth organization promoting racial justice. They’ve already picked up 1,500 members.

High school students make up the bulk of the group, but some USC and UCLA students have shown support, as well as families bringing kids as young as 4.

“I think people are just tired of not doing anything, just staring at a phone and reposting stuff and hoping that other people see it and take action,” says Students for Floyd founder Cleo Riley. “It’s great to see people actually put in the work and take action and drive. Some kids are driving from two hours away. It’s crazy.”

The students have been protesting every day, all while finishing school. Riley just finished her junior year on Tuesday.


Kate Rogers joined Tuesday’s protest in Hollywood after cleaning up near Pan Pacific Park that morning. Photo by Caleigh Wells.

Her classmate Kate Rogers says moments during the protests have made her nervous. A few days ago, she was at the front of the line at the Fairfax District, facing off with police officers.

“We ran right up to them, and we kind of just put our signs up peacefully. And it was scary, yeah, to be face-to-face with officers. But I also know as a white person, it’ll never be nearly as scary for me as it will be for a black person. That’s why we’re out here.”

Riley says parents are most concerned about health safety precautions during the coronavirus pandemic. That’s why group members protest in face masks, carry hand sanitizer, and try to stay physically distanced.

Rogers says they were inspired to do more than protest after last weekend, when the demonstrations in Fairfax ended with looting and property destruction.

“If we’re going to have people taking away from our movement and looting and taking property, we’re going to take it on ourselves to clean up,” she says. “So basically our cycle is: We get up, we do a cleanup, we go out and protest, go home, clean everything up, get out next day, start over, clean up, protest. So we’re just going to keep doing that cycle until we see change.”

Many of their cleanup and COVID safety supplies are donated, either by people dropping off equipment and cash at cleanup sites, or sending money through Venmo. 

The group protested at Pan Pacific Park and spent the following two mornings cleaning up after the looting in the nearby Fairfax District. They’ve also protested and cleaned up graffiti and trash in Hollywood, and are protesting outside of LA County District Attorney Jackie Lacey’s office on Wednesday.