GAINESVILLE, Fla. — A video shows the moment a black man hugged a Nazi outside white supremacist leader Richard Spencer’s speech Thursday afternoon at the University of Florida in Gainesville.
In the video, which was posted on Twitter, 31-year-old Aaron Alex Courtney is seen hugging the man and asking, “Why don’t you like me, dog?”
Warning: The video contains harsh language
Courtney told the New York Daily News that he could have hurt the man or started a fight but instead wanted to show love.
“I asked him, ‘Why do you hate me? What is it about me? Is it my skin color? My history? My dreadlocks?” Courtney said.
When the Nazi looked away and avoided his questions, he gave him a hug.
“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 said.
When he asked again, “Why do you hate me?” the man replied, “I don’t know.”
University and local officials were concerned the event could become violent, such as what occurred in Charlottesville, Virginia, and took steps to prevent that.
On Monday, Gov. Rick Scott declared a state of emergency for Alachua County, where the university is located, to enable law enforcement agencies to work together more efficiently.
University of Florida president W. Kent Fuchs denounced Spencer’s white supremacist platform as abhorrent in a letter to students but said the school could not stop him from renting the Phillips Center for the event.