A few days ago, demonstrators rallied to protest a speech made by white nationalist Richard Spencer in Gainesville, Florida. One protester ended up punching a Neo Nazi in the face, at which point high school football coach Aaron Courtney tried a non-violent approach that seemed to work a little better when dealing with the extremist (identified as Randy Furniss).
Courtney asked the Neo Nazi “Why do you hate me? What is it about me? Is it my skin color? My history? My dreadlocks?’” Furniss ignored his questions. But then, Courtney asked for a hug and Furniss eventually obliged.
“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 to the Daily News.
Courtney told the site that when he asked Furniss once again, ‘Why do you hate me?’ Furniss answered, ‘I don’t know.’
In an unlikely ending, Furniss found another ally the Spencer rally that he didn’t even end up getting into. He and Julius Long, a radical activist, were both kicked out of the area when Long came to Furniss’ defense after protesters started beating up on him. After talking, the two plan to stay in touch, Long told Florida’s WCJB.
“With communication we can get an understanding and build relationships,” Long said.