CLEVELAND — A recent WGN-TV video of a white police officer praying with a group of black demonstrators has gone viral.
During a story on security measures ahead of the Republican National Convention, WGN’s Julie Unruh ran into a group of three people holding hands with the officer outside of Quicken Loans Arena. An African-American man led a prayer as an emotional officer joined them.
The moment captured the hearts of viewers and online readers, as it offered hope amid a tragic month that has claimed the lives of both African-Americans and police officers in cities like Baton Rouge, La.; Dallas; and suburban St. Paul, Minnesota. It also came the same day that three officers were gunned down in Baton Rouge.
“He wishes more people would solve problems with love than hate,” Unruh said of the Cleveland officer, who did not want to speak on camera. “He was a little emotional about it.”
The man who led the prayer said his group organized the movement before the latest tragedy struck, and that it would have taken place regardless. He said it was a plea to bring harmony among everyone affected by violence in the U.S., and bring an end to racial tensions.
“We can penetrate and destroy those glass walls with the simplicity of love,” he later said in an interview with Unruh, motioning to a poster that read, “Love your neighbor.”
The video shared on Facebook received more than 50,000 likes, 1.5 million views and 45,000 shares in less than 24 hours.
“I saw the teen later that evening passing out more hugs in a different part of downtown,” Unruh said. “Seems his approach is being well received.”