The emotional crosscurrents that are sweeping through the streets of Charlotte, N.C., were captured in a recent video in which a black protester crosses the no man’s land between protesters and police only to find he is more welcome among the police than he was with his fellow protesters.
The video, which was shot Thursday night, shows a young black man walking up to a line of police officers in riot gear. After a brief conversation with one police officer, who in the video is intently trying to read the motives in the young man’s actions, the two shared a hug.
The protester then shook hands with and hugged another police officer. They talked as though they were not surrounded by a city on edge from two nights of violence that followed Tuesday’s fatal shooting of Keith Scott by police.
Then the young man, stung by comments from the mass of protesters behind the camera, turned back to defend himself. (WARNING: Video contains offensive language.)
“It’s about staying neutral,” he argued with an unseen voice.
Soon, profanity-laced voices were rising up in anger at the young man, who pointed at the officer he had just hugged.
“Did he kill somebody?” the protester asked.
His comments unleashed more profanity and anger from the protesters.
“None of these people here shot anyone,” he said, finally looking at some of those arguing with him in disgust and frustration.
“I can’t even reason with you,” he said. “Love is free,” he added, saying that he wanted to “spread peace.”
Assailed by fellow black protesters, the protester who hugged police continued his efforts to educate them.
“I see them as human beings,” he said, speaking about the police, “just as I see everybody on this side as human beings. Your skin color does not make you a criminal.”
As he continued to get anger in response, he tried to offer logic.
“How does this make sense?” he said, accusing those arguing against him of “spreading more hatred in the world.”
(WARNING: Video contains offensive language.)
— Joel Franco (@OfficialJoelF) September 23, 2016
The video went viral and was retweeted more than 20,000 times as of Friday morning.
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