LOS ANGELES, CBSLA – The death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officers this summer has sparked a national movement and calls for justice.

After the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police, a Southern California man noticed that people were treating him differently. To combat the disconnect, he launched a campaign to encourage people to just say hello. (Credit: Just say hello)

Kerman Maddox said Floyd’s death and the subsequent movement to hold police accountable has also changed the way people interact.

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I noticed that there was a lot of tension here in Southern California right after George Floyd died.

Maddox, who has worked in politics and consulting, said he also noticed people starting to act differently toward him.

Just in my daily activities, whether it’s walking my dog, going to the market or going to a restaurant, the people I normally interact with seem a bit cold, he says. And I thought: Wow, there’s something about me, did I do something?

Maddox then came up with a simple concept to bridge the growing racial divide.

If we can get people to do something very simple, just say hello, wave, recognize people who aren’t like you, we thought there might be a connection, he said.

With the support of Los Angeles City Council members and other generous donors, Maddox launched the Just Say Hello campaign earlier this month.

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I just think we live in a time where we are so isolated that just saying hello really unites us, said Councilmember Monica Rodriguez.

Rodriguez, who is chairman of the city’s public safety department, said this could be another tool for police and schools.

We’re really starting with the youth in my district, both through my youth council and by working with local elementary and high schools, and we’re going to spread this message throughout our city, she said.

Capt. Stacy Spell, commander of the Media Relations Division, said conversations are underway about how agents can use the message of the Just Say Hello campaign to build better relationships with the communities they serve.

When we look at the follow-up and the different things that came out of the George Floyd incident, I would say it was very difficult for them, but also for many of our police officers who, like me, came forward and wanted to do something to change things, he said.

The LAPD stated that it was still developing a plan that would work during the COVID-19 pandemic, whether it was distributing masks with a message on them or gift cards.

MORE: Man pleads guilty to child sexual assault on YouTube

For more information on the Just Say Hello campaign, please visit the organization’s website.

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