Ken E. Nwadike Jr. is part of the Free Hugs Project. According to the Facebook page, it’s “an initiative that spreads love, inspires change and raises awareness of social issues through motivational videos.” He’s been everywhere this year, attending rallies, both Democratic and Republican (Trump and Sanders) and it appears to be spreading a positive message. Independent Journal Review did their own rendition of a Trump supporter asking for hugs at a Sanders rally; it was successful. It’s about spreading love and peace. From what I’ve seen, it’s nothing bad. Yet, when Nwadike descended into Charlotte and hugged members of the Charlotte Police Department last night, all hell broke loose with the protestors on the other side of the picket line.
Nwadike was called a “p***y n***er” by protestors who seemed to be just appalled that he was hugging law enforcement. He then tried to reason with a few, but to no avail. He stated that his message is peace, and that he’s neutral in the sense that he isn’t taking a pro-cop, or pro-Black Lives Matter side. He then tells one protestor that an officer’s uniform doesn’t make him a killer, or a robot, just like how just how his (pointing to the man) skin color doesn’t make him a criminal. We’re all human.
“This man [pointing to the officer] gave me a hug, and he wants to fight me because of that; how does that make sense spreading more hate into the world?” screamed Nwadike. “That’s what’s frustrating me, we can’t love one another?”
One of the protesters pointed to the black police officers, which Nwadike interjected by saying once black police officers take off their uniforms, they’re experiencing the same injustices as us, but they have a job to do right now.
“If I couldn’t find work, if I was not blessed to have a job, guess what I would do—I would join the military, I would be a police officer—I would find work in order to feed my children,” said Nwadike. And that strikes at the heart of the issue of many of the problems that plague our urban areas. There are scores of young African American men who can’t find jobs. It’s an issue that Trump promises to tackle if he’s elected president.
The rest of the video shows what happened on the ground as the night progressed, with protestors recognizing Nwadike, some even joining him in trying to keep the peace where he could. No doubt he probably saved some people from being arrested by trying to reason with some folks. He also chewed out some protestors, who appear to be white, for throwing rocks at some establishments.
“That’s how we get fired on when people do stupid stuff,” he said.
Nevertheless, another aspect of this video shows how both sides have lost the ability to have a dialogue with one another. These tragic incidents never reached this level of intensity until the Obama presidency, which has seen a precipitous drop in race relations. No jobs, tepid economic growth, and an inability to have conversations are a recipe for disaster. And we’re seeing that again here.