Protester Hugs Nazi Outside Richard Spencer Event, Asks 'Why Do You Hate Me?'

Aaron Courtney asked the man in the swastika shirt, “Why don’t you like me, dog?” His response: "I don't know."

Thousands of demonstrators were in Gainesville, Florida, on Thursday to protest a speech by white nationalist Richard Spencer, but one tried to counteract the hate with a hug.

It happened when a man wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with swastikas was surrounded by screaming protesters. 

The man, later identified as Randy Furniss by the Gainesville Sun, was punched by one protester in a photo that has since gone viral.

Brian Blanco via Getty Images

But Aaron Courtney, a high school football coach in Gainesville, tried a different tactic. He went up to Furniss and tried to engage him in a more loving manner.

A video posted to Twitter by user Politics 4 Dummies shows Courtney hugging Furniss while asking him, “Why don’t you like me, dog?”

The 31-year-old Courtney told the New York Daily News the moment came after four hours of protesting Spencer’s speech.

“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 said he almost broke out in tears as Furniss ignored his questions, but decided that maybe “he just needs love. Maybe he never met an African-American like this.”

That’s when Courtney asked Furniss for the hug, which the man gave despite some initial resistance.

“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 told the Daily News.

Courtney said when he asked Furniss once again, “Why do you hate me?” Furniss finally answered, “I don’t know.”

Courtney took that as a honest response.

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

University Of Florida Protests Richard Spencer
(01 of 16)
Florida State Troopers walk from their hotel to the University of Florida Campus before a speaking event by Richard Spencer on Thursday, October 19, 2017 in Gainesville. (credit: Chris McGonigal/HuffPost)
(02 of 16)
A University of Florida Police vehicle sits in front of a banner listing prohibited items on Hall Road near the entrance to University of Florida in Gainesville on Thursday October, 19 2017. (credit: Chris McGonigal/HuffPost)
(03 of 16)
A list of prohibited items is listed near the University of Florida in Gainesville. (credit: Chris McGonigal/HuffPost)
(04 of 16)
A banner listing prohibited items hangs above Hall Road near the entrance to University of Florida in Gainesville on Thursday, October 19 2017. (credit: Chris McGonigal/HuffPost)
(05 of 16)
Police in riot gear secure a perimeter near the University of Florida. (credit: Chris McGonigal/HuffPost)
(06 of 16)
People protest near the Hull Road entrance to University of Florida. (credit: Chris McGonigal/HuffPost)
(07 of 16)
Mushrat Nuri, a student at University of Florida in Gainesville, marches down 34th Street. (credit: Chris McGonigal/HuffPost)
(08 of 16)
People march down 34th street to the entrance of the University of Florida. (credit: Chris McGonigal/HuffPost)
(09 of 16)
People march down 34th street to the entrance of the University of Florida. (credit: Chris McGonigal/HuffPost)
(10 of 16)
(credit: Chris McGonigal/HuffPost)
(11 of 16)
People march down 34th street to the entrance of the University of Florida. (credit: Chris McGonigal/HuffPost)
(12 of 16)
A man leaving the Richard Spencer event is accosted by people waiting outside. (credit: Chris McGonigal/HuffPost)
(13 of 16)
A man leaving the Richard Spencer event is accosted by people waiting outside. (credit: Chris McGonigal/HuffPost)
(14 of 16)
People chant at a man who left the Richard Spencer event at the University of Florida. (credit: Chris McGonigal/HuffPost)
(15 of 16)
The man argued with protesters before being escorted away by police. (credit: Chris McGonigal/HuffPost)
(16 of 16)
Police escorted him off campus in handcuffs. (credit: Chris McGonigal/HuffPost)
View Comments