A Charlotte protester’s approach – he hugged several cops in riot gear because he sees them as human beings and wants peace – is getting attention on social media.
Warning, there is some graphic language. The video was posted by the Free Hugs Project. Watch it above.
The protester’s actions sparked some anger from the crowd around him. The police officers he hugs are in riot gear. They are white and black. He is black.
“All right, brother,” says a white police officer in riot gear, hugging the man, whose name is Ken Nwadike, back. Nwadike is the founder of the Free Hugs Project.
The protests and riots have ignited following the shooting death by a Charlotte police officer, Brentley Vinson, of Keith Lamont Scott. Police have said Scott had a gun but that body cam videos don’t clearly show whether he pointed it; Scott’s family denies that he had a gun. The unrest, which has resulted in at least 20 injuries to police officers and the death of protester Justin Carr, was growing again for a third night on September 22.
However, the man in the free hugs T-shirt had a different approach. The Free Hugs Project describes its mission on Facebook as “The Free Hugs Project is an initiative that spreads love, inspires change and raises awareness of social issues through motivational videos.”
When someone yells at him, the unidentified man stands his ground. He says: “It’s not even like that. It’s not even like that. It’s about staying neutral. That’s what’s important. That’s what’s important.”
“Did he kill somebody?” he asks, pointing at one cop. Then he moves on to the next cop, and points at him. “Did he kill somebody?” he asks.
“None of these people here shot anybody. I can’t even reason with you because you’re not even making sense to me,” the man says.
People scream at the man, but he continues to stand his ground. “We’re not getting peace for free,” one woman yells.
Although one woman and others scream at the man, one protester shook his hand.
The man tries again to explain.
“I see them as human beings. Just like I see everybody on this side as human beings. We’re all humans. His uniform doesn’t make him a robot. Just like your skin color doesn’t make you a criminal. This man gave me a hug, and he (pointing at another protester) wants to fight me because of that. How does that make sense? Spreading more hate into the world. That’s what frustrating me. We can’t love one another? It doesn’t make sense.”
“We all should be equal, but we’re not,” another protester retorts.