WARNING: Feature video and post contain graphic language.
Wednesday night, Ken Nwadike, otherwise known as the "Free Hugs Guy," went down to Charlotte, North Carolina, to do what he does best--offer love to everyone.
It all started in 2013, when Nwadike witnessed the Boston Bombings. He was determined to do something, but he wasn't sure what. After failing to qualify for the 2014 marathon, he started the Free Hugs Project instead:
"Equipped with a Free Hugs sign, camera, and tripod; the event was captured on video – which instantly went viral."
Since then, Nwadike has spread the love across the country in times of crisis. As Charlotte descended into chaos after the shooting of African American Keith Lamont Scott, Nwadike knew what he was going to do.
In the above video, when Nwadike hugs a police officer, people can be heard in the background:
"Fuck you, man."
"You a pussy, nigga!"
Nwadike turns around, and argues back:
"It's not even like that. It's about staying neutral. That's what important...if one black person does something, we can't say that every black person is bad. If one cop does something, we can't say that every cop is bad. None of these people here shot anyone."
Despite constant interruptions from protesters who were intent on derailing his actions, he continued to talk reasonably--and he wasn't the only one. Some people on the street began to agree with him, and send the love right back.
During one confrontation, Nwadike made a salient point:
"I see them as human beings, just as I see everybody on this side as human beings. We're all human. This uniform doesn't make him a robot, just like your uniform, your skin color, doesn't make you a criminal...This man gave me a hug, and this [other] man wants to fight me over that. How does that make sense?"
Throughout the chaotic night in which gunshots rang out on multiple occasions, and civilians were injured, Nwadike met others like himself, spoke with police officers who engaged with citizens, and was thanked by individuals on both sides of the conflict for his peace-bringing actions.
The Free Hugs Project is so much more than it sounds.
On his official website, Nwadike offers the quote: "Fear and hatred will cease to exist when love is in abundance." Even in the midst of disorder and mayhem, some of that love was on display in Charlotte Wednesday.