High School Junior Cleo Riley on Inspiring Kids to Take Action After George Floyd's Death (Exclusive)
By Zach Seemayer
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High school junior Cleo Riley is doing what she can to help enact change. The young activist has committed herself to inspiring her fellow students to take action and protest against injustice in the wake of George Floyd's death.
Riley spoke with ET's Rachel Smith on Tuesday, and explained what the group she started, Students for Floyd, is doing to help the cause and to help their community.
"[Our] goals right now are obviously just going to protests and showing that we can get a large group of kids together to take action," the 17-year-old activist explains. "We've also been leading a bunch of cleanups to kind of help with the aftermath of the protests, cleaning up graffiti, helping out shops, all that stuff."
Several protests escalated into violence and vandalism, leaving sizable cleanup jobs for residents in the neighborhoods, and Riley said that having her group lead restoration efforts is a way to show what community activism really looks like to those who would want to write off the efforts of the demonstrators.
"By doing the cleanups, it shows that our organization cares about our community and we're not just there to destroy things, especially since we don't associate ourselves with those people," Riley says. "We want to make an effort to help our community rebuild and clean up because that's the intention behind any of these protests."
When it comes to the massive protests, which have largely been lawful and focused, across the country -- and particularly in the Hollywood area where Riley calls home -- she said it's been "so emotional" to see such determination and unity.
"These are the streets that I walk through and drive through every day," she says. 'So I definitely have been getting emotional to see huge groups of people coming together for a cause that I care about and that others do too, and especially in my hometown."
For Riley, starting Students for Floyd and becoming a community leader for other young activists has been incredibly rewarding.
"This is all I've ever wanted to do and I'm so glad that I finally just decided to go with it and not be afraid of anything that can happen," she says, adding that it's been "so easy" to get the group going because "everyone's supporting me, everyone's supporting our cause, so it's really great just taking initiative and getting stuff done."
Those who are interested in getting more information about the group can check out Students for Floyd on Instagram.