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George Floyd's death ignited a youth movement with Jacksonville teens becoming activists

After the video of George Floyd's death was circulated around the country, it activated a base of young people to protest and take action against police brutality.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla — It’s the end of the first week of former officer Derek Chauvin’s trial for the death of George Floyd.

Floyd’s death and the video of it created a ripple effect around the nation and now, young people are saying they are not willing to wait for the grown-ups to make a change. 

Thousands of people protested police brutality in cities all around America including Jacksonville.

RELATED: Hours of body-worn camera footage from first 2 days of Jacksonville protests released

You could hear the roar of protesters in the city center outside to Duval County Courthouse in the summer of 2020. It’s quiet now, but the young people behind this movement are not.

“I was actually arrested while protesting during the George Floyd protests going on around May," said Milka, a high school senior.  “People were beaten up. I was maced. My sisters were pushed.”

“At that protest I was also pepper-sprayed and I got body-slammed," said Jara, a high school senior. 

“We deserve to have our voices heard and not be silenced just because we are children," Milka said. 

Teenagers Jara, Milka, Michael, and Samuel are a few of the faces behind the movement for equality.

“Being a young black male in today’s society, it’s almost like repetition to me," Michael said. "I see stuff like that on the daily.”

Stuff like that. Michael is talking about the video of the now-former officer Derek Chauvin kneeling on George Floyd’s neck and other videos and stories of police killing black men and women. 

Michael, 18, is the Youth of the Year with the local Boys and Girls Club. He believes it will be his generation that makes a change to end police brutality.

“We all have some of the same ambitions," Michael said about his generation. "We want to be better. We want to see change. As far as I’m concerned, Sandalwood (high school), that put a toll on everybody like if they can do it we can do it.”

The protest at Sandalwood high school in February focused on the need for more Black history in schools. The protests came after a Duval County School District campaign called “You Matter” for suicide prevention was launched during Black History Month. 

The slogan was reminiscent of all lives matter.

RELATED: Protest prompts 'modified early release' at Sandalwood High School

“We wanted to talk more about we were not learning in schools and what they don’t focus on what we’re missing as African American children in America," Milka said. 

“It’s definitely not political, it’s kind of like basic human decency," said Jara.

Jara, 17, and Milka, 18, are two of the Sandalwood protest organizers. This did bring about change with the First Black Student Union was created at Sandalwood High. 

But these young people want to see change happen outside their school. 

Samuel, 13, is Youth of the Year for the Boys and Girls Club middle school division.

“When I saw the protests, it made me very excited," Samuel said. 'Because you see all these killings and police brutality of people just like you. The same skin color... It makes you want to say hey let's make a change in this world."

Samuel says his parents didn't allow him to join the protests in Jacksonville in 2020, but his sister did. He hopes to join in the future. 

"Kids want to make a change too, not just older people, we all want to make a change to make this world a better place," Samuel said.

All four collectively agree when they see people who look like them treated unjustly, they can’t stay quiet.

The trial of Derek Chauvin is putting George Floyd’s name back in the news and they believe this will reignite the movement.

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