Never Hate On Hugs

At least, I wont.

There have been many “free hugs” videos posted over the years, but I’ve never seen one get quite as tense as this one.


At first, I was so relieved to see the police, decked in riot gear, not badger the man wearing the free hugs t-shirt, but rather stepping forward and claiming a couple of hugs of their own and thanking him for being there and being peaceful. Things started to get extremely tense, however, when someone else in the crowd spots the young man having the audacity to engage in a sympathetic way with a police officer.

I felt bad for the guy when he got insulted and ridiculed by certain people in the crowd, but he held his own very well. While I understand the frustration and the anger that people in a community harbor after years of police violence, I also think that it is a necessary part of growth to learn when, where and how to direct that anger. Personally, I don’ think that is towards the guy with the “free hugs” t-shirt on.

That the young man spreading the message of peace and unity was also a man of color, I think, even further helps convey the message that this does not have to be a mutually exclusive, PoC vs. Cops battle, no matter how much outlets like Fox News want you to try to sell it as such. This is not a race war, this is about disadvantaged communities being railroaded by an out of control police system. That does not mean that there are not decent individual cops. That does not mean that the cops who shoot unarmed people are individual bad apples. It means that the system which trains the police, protects them from prosecution and victimizes these communities is deeply broken, and needs to be rebuilt. That does not decrease the humanity of any one person who finds themselves in this horrible mess, and I applaud this man for trying to make everyone understand that, on either side of the divide.


      • thoughtsofcrys says

        I don’t, because my tech savvy is quite pathetic! I’m sure there’s something on my admin dashboard that allows for such buttons though… I’ll look into it today!

  1. says

    I think his intentions are good, but I also think he’s wrong.
    He constantly compares “police officer” to “being black” when one of them is something you choose and the other something you are.
    Crys, you say yourself you were glad the police officers didn’t badger him. You were reasonably afraid for him. Cops won’t stop shooting black people ’cause they are nice and kind to the cops. That’s not how things work.

    • thoughtsofcrys says

      Obviously they wont, and I’ve posted on that subject numerous times before. I don’t think that he will stop police violence. I think that his message is to be peaceful and deescalate inflamed tensions in a protest setting. Regardless of whether or not peaceful protests will solve everything, I still can’t fault him for encouraging peace.
      You also have to remember that this comes in the context of two demonstrations in which police officers were killed by snipers. That escalation of violence further reinforces the narrative that the BLM movement is violent and dangerous and that police are rightfully scared of black people, and that definitely will not help resolve the issue. The police system has to be fixed from the inside out. But, on the individual, people-on-the-ground level, if the protesters are peaceful, and recognize each others humanity, and bring attention to the situation in such a way? I’m all for that, far more than rioting, shouting abuse and committing violence of their own.
      As for the black vs cop comparison, I think he was just trying to get the people shouting at him to empathize. Like, you know how frustrating it is when people who don’t know you judge you as a bad person because of the color of your skin, don’t do the same to others because of the color of their uniform. Want to be wary, and fearful? OK, I get that, but don’t shout at, abuse, or kill someone you don’t even know because of your snap judgement and blanket assumptions

      • says

        But, on the individual, people-on-the-ground level, if the protesters are peaceful, and recognize each others humanity, and bring attention to the situation in such a way?

        You’re still putting the onus on the black protesters to be perfect while the other side doesn’t give a fuck. Look at the hate Colin Kaepernick is getting for the most peaceful protest imaginable. He’s even being chastised by Obama! To me that’s just a goalpost that keeps moving.
        As I said, I think the guy’s heart is in the right place, but I also think he’s on the wrong track. If those nice police officers decked out in riot gear get the order to beat the crap out of that group they will do so and not give a fuck about the humanity of the guy in the shirt.

        • thoughtsofcrys says

          So the answer is, what, they don’t give a fuck about our humanity, so let’s bash their heads in first? Or not organize protests at all?
          I’m not saying that they should go the hippie way and throw flowers at the cops and love them unconditionally. I also don’t think that the guy deserves to be called a pussy for being the bigger man and not devolving into unconditional hatred. The whole thing is really an impossible situation, and no one thing is going to resolve it. However, I do believe in peaceful protests as a strategy, rather than one of rioting. That does not mean that you can’t criticize, forcefully vocalize your displeasure, or be assertive, nor do I think that the guy in the video was making that argument at all. I just think he was trying to diffuse, rather than inflame, and the individual cops in the video responded positively to him for it, and maybe others who watch that video will too. He’s going for the Ghandi/MLK approach, and I don’t think there is anything wrong with that. I can like MLK’s message of peace and humanizing his oppressors, while at the same time hating racial segregation, acknowledging that others with a less peaceful message also played an important part in the civil rights movement, and understanding why people were very angry with their situation.
          As for Kaepernick many criticized him, but many loved what he did and supported him too. You’re never going to get everyone on your side with one single act or gesture, but you can certainly move in the right direction, and more and more people are moving in the direction of support for the BLM. That’s precisely the reason the right wing is turning up the heat on the rhetoric, it’s because more and more people are listening.

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