Last night, thousands of people protested outside of the Democratic National Convention – mostly Bernie Sanders fans who refuse to support the Dems’ nominee, Hillary Clinton. However, according to ABC 7 News, one man stood out from the crowd of DNC protesters – Ken Nwadike Jr., founder of the Free Hugs Project, or better known as the Free Hugs Guy.
Nwadike started his project three years ago, when the Boston marathon bombing happened, in order to bring cheer to others instead of hate. Ken travels across the country to rallies, protests and conventions to give out free hugs and to “bring peace…spread love and break up fights.”
Just as Nwadike did at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland last week, instead of protesting, he is giving out “free hugs” to anyone and everyone he can at the DNC in Philadelphia. Despite Nwadike’s free hugs, some protests outside the DNC last night got pretty heated, as reported by USA Today.
Chaos and arrests happened at the Wells Fargo Arena while Obama gave his speech inside and introduced Clinton as the Democratic presidential nominee. According to USA Today, protesters stormed security barricades outside the DNC last night at about 10:50 p.m. and police took out batons, but no one was struck by police.
Seven people got through the outer perimeter fence into a Secret Service “secure zone,” according to the U.S. Secret Service, and were detained by Philadelphia police without incident. The seven people were taken to the Philadelphia Federal Detention Center and will most likely be given federal charges for entering a federally restricted area.
Peaceful protesters also argued with other protesters who burned an American flag, and one woman was briefly ignited when she tried to step on the flag. Protesters also burned an Israeli flag. Some have complained that the media tried to down-play the DNC protests.
According to the USA Today article, a total of 69 tickets were issued at the DNC yesterday, including 10 citations for disorderly conduct stemming from a sit-in downtown. While there are plenty of civilian videos available on social media, many have claimed that the news media is not giving as much attention to what is happening with the DNC protests as were the RNC protests. The DNC constructed a 4-mile cyclone fence around the perimeter of the Wells Fargo Arena in order to keep protesters out.
Regardless of the chaotic protests outside the DNC over the last few days, the “Free Hugs Guy,” Ken Nwadike Jr. has not been swayed. He has been giving hugs out to police officers and protesters of every race, religion and party affiliation since the DNC began on Monday. His message is simply, “Fear and hatred will cease to exist when love is in abundance.”
Nwadike’s Free Hugs Project website tells why he began his campaign of love. Nwadike, who is also CEO of Superhero Events and Director of the Hollywood Half Marathon, said that after viewing the devastation of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, he decided that he wanted to participate in the race the following year, but he failed to qualify by 23 seconds. Nwadike then decided he would attend in a different way, and provided free hugs to encourage runners along the route. Nwadike held up a Free Hugs sign, and filmed his participation with a camera and tripod. After uploading the video to YouTube, it immediately went viral.
Nwadike has also been front and center at Black Lives Matter protests, and hugs it out with both BLM protesters and policemen as well.
If you want to watch the rest of the Democratic National Convention live, you can click on the video below.
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[Image via Free Hugs Youtube]