On Thursday afternoon, a black men took an unusual approach to a Nazi as they were outside white supremacist leader Richard Spencer’s speech at the University of Florida in Gainesville: he hugged him.
Aaron Alex Courtney, 31, approached the young Nazi, Randy Furniss, who was surrounded by protesters who screamed at him and punched him, and hugged him, asking, “Why don’t you like me, dog?” Courtney told the New York Daily News, “I could have hit him, I could have hurt him ... but something in me said, ‘You know what? He just needs love.’”
Instead, Courtney asked, “‘Why do you hate me? What is it about me? Is it my skin color? My history? My dreadlocks?” He later recalled, “After beating around the bush, and avoiding my questions, I asked him, I pleaded with him, I almost broke out in tears, growing increasingly angry because I didn’t understand.”
Furniss averted his eyes, but Courtney was insistent. He said later, “I reached over and the third time, he wrapped his arms around me, and I heard God whisper in my ear, ‘You changed his life.’”
When Courtney asked again, “Why do you hate me?” the man replied, “I don’t know.” Courtney said, “I believe that was his sincere answer. He really doesn’t know.”
Courtney concluded, “It’s a step in the right direction. One hug can really change the world. It’s really that simple.”
Watch the hug: