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.