Black Protester Hugs Squirming Nazi, Quips, ‘Why Don’t You Like Me, Dog?’

By Breanna Edwards, The Root

The black protester who was caught on viral video hugging a squirming and uncomfortable neo-Nazi outside white supremacist dump truck Richard Spencer’s speech at the University of Florida in Gainesville on Thursday is acknowledging that he could just as easily have hit the guy (an act in which someone else had earlier indulged) but decided to go a different route in order to bring about change in his own way.

(Brian Blanco/Getty Images)

“I could have hit him, I could have hurt him … but something in me said, ‘You know what? He just needs love,’” Aaron Alex Courtney told the New York Daily News. “It’s a step in the right direction. One hug can really change the world. It’s really that simple.”

The unidentified neo-Nazi was seen at Spencer’s speech location wearing a T-shirt covered in swastikas. His not-so-subtle outfit obviously drew the attention of the crowd, which included protesters who screamed, punched and spat on him before Courtney wrapped his arms around him.

“Why don’t you like me, dog?” the 31-year-old high school football coach out of Gainesville could be heard asking the man. “Give me a fucking hug.”

Courtney could be seen attempting to get the man to hug him back, but the man just stood there, limp and uncomfortable, as Courtney embraced him.

A nazi and a black man…..America 2017 #SpencerAtUF pic.twitter.com/sSaG36EuOr

— Politics 4 Dummies (@Politics4dum) October 19, 2017

Surprised to learn that Spencer was a person and not an impending hurricane, or that the notification wasn’t about a kidnapping or something of the sort, Courtney started to do research.

“I found out about what kind of person he was, and that encouraged me, as an African American, to come out and protest. Because this is what we’re trying to avoid. It’s people like him who are increasing the distance … between people,” Courtney told the Daily News.

Courtney gave about four hours of his time Thursday protesting and was getting ready to leave when he saw Mr. Nazi himself causing a commotion among the other protesters.

“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?” Courtney 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,” he said.

However, Courtney, whose father is a bishop, decided to take some of his father’s teachings and offer the man a hug.

“Something in me said, ‘You know what? He just needs love. Maybe he never met an African American like this,” Courtney said.

It took some cajoling, but, Courtney said, “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 then said he asked again, “Why do you hate me?”

The neo-Nazi’s response, according to Courtney? “‘I don’t know.’”

“I believe that was his sincere answer. He really doesn’t know,” Courtney added.

The man was eventually escorted away by police, but not before taking a photo with Courtney’s friend.

“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.

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ABHM Co-Sponsors “Racial Justice: The Courage to Act” with Head Griot Reggie Jackson Speaking on Segregation in Milwaukee

Written by: Keith McAllister

Edited by: Zak Morse

Full house!

 

 

April 1st fell on a Saturday this year, and community members from more than 20 different churches and organizations around Milwaukee gathered at Alverno College to engage in the impactful social justice event, Racial Justice: The Courage to Act. The event left attendees with much to think about in the struggle for justice. It also illustrated efforts to build coalitions across organizations committed to racial justice in Milwaukee, including the YWCA Southeast Wisconsin, Rid Racism Milwaukee, and Unitarian Universalists (UUs) for Black Lives Matter.

For a full list of co-sponsors, visit the event page; for insights about the day’s program, check out the hashtag #Courage2Act on Twitter and Instagram.


Among the co-sponsors was
America’s Black Holocaust Museum. ABHM’s Head Griot Reggie Jackson delivered the opening address, which described the impact of  racism in Milwaukee and the struggle for justice in Milwaukee’s past and present. Jackson’s address set the tone early on for serious engagement by addressing directly the scope and severity of the city’s racial injustices.

Reggie Jackson speaking on segregation in Milwaukee.

Jackson described how Milwaukee is the most racially segregated major city in the U.S. “Milwaukee’s issues are literally killing black people.” Wisconsin is the “only state in the U.S.” where the life expectancy gap is not improving, and two thirds of the distressed population in the state is concentrated here in Milwaukee. Facts like these—and many more shown in the speaker’s presentation—are indicative of wider social and economic disparities.

The conference left us with the resoundingly clear message: more action is needed for racial justice. In light of events like Racial Justice: Courage to Act, there is a need for community members to ask hard questions, articulate lived experiences, and help reconcile historical injustices to promote justice in today’s Milwaukee.

For more about the organizations involved, explore the event’s Facebook page.

To learn more about America’s Black Holocaust Museum, please explore the virtual museum galleries.

Read more Breaking News here.