On Thursday, a protester in a now-viral video decided to hug a Nazi outside of Richard Spencer’s speech at the University of Florida.
Aaron Courtney saw a man wearing a shirt with swastikas on it surrounded by protesters yelling at him and spitting at him and punching him and decided that instead of getting angry, he was going to take a page out of his father, a bishop’s, book. So, he hugged the man and asked, “Why don’t you like me, dog?”
Courtney had been protesting for about four hours when he saw the man, and he recalled the moment he made his decision: “I had the opportunity to talk to someone who hates my guts and I wanted to know why. During our conversation, I asked him, ‘Why do you hate me? What is it about me? Is it my skin color? My history? My dreadlocks?’”
The man looked off in the distance and ignored Courtney’s questions, which became increasingly pleading.
“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,” he said.
This man asked a simple question and then gave the Nazi a hug. pic.twitter.com/vONEqcW15r
— Zack (@steelzack1) October 20, 2017
But he didn’t act on his anger, he recalled. “Something in me said, ‘You know what? He just needs love. Maybe he never met an African-American like this.”
He asked the Nazi, identified as Randy Furniss, to give him a hug, and after the man initially refused, he finally relented. “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,’” Courtney recalled.
Courtney asked him again, “Why do you hate me?” and Furniss finally replied, “I don’t know.”
“I believe that was his sincere answer. He really doesn’t know,” Courtney said.
Furniss took a picture with Courtney’s friend before police ushered him away.
“I honestly feel that was a step in the right direction, for him to take a picture with a guy that he hated when he woke up this morning,” Courtney said.