Genesee County Sheriff Christopher Swanson has gone viral after joining a peaceful protest in Flint, Michigan. In the video, Swanson can be seen taking off his riot gear in an effort to encourage protesters to come together with law enforcement to mend their relationship with the community.
"I want to make this a parade, not a protest,” Swanson told the crowd. "The only reason we're here is to make sure that you got a voice - that's it.”
The peaceful protest was just one example happening across the nation fighting for justice for George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died in police custody in Minneapolis after a white officer kneeled on his neck for more than eight minutes.
"The second that turn of events happened when I said, 'Let's walk,' you saw an entire crowd's mindset and heart change because they wanted to be heard," Swanson has since shared with the Today show. "They were as much a part of that night making history in Flint than anybody else. Now we're day two, no arrests, no fires, no injuries."
In the video, which has gone viral on social media, Swanson can be seen taking off his helmet and putting down his weapons.
“When I saw the crowd and felt the frustration and the fact that we were only accelerating the issue, it was time to take the helmet off, go to the shot caller, the lead organizer, give him a big old fat hug and say, 'What do we need to do?’” he added. "When I acknowledged that we don't condone [what happened to Floyd], that's not who cops are, the second question is, 'What else do you need?' That's when the crowd shouted, 'Walk with us!’”
While talking with Today, Swanson concluded: "Create the conversation that makes the change. Everybody talks about change — change comes with action. I gotta believe that there's folks in those communities that want peace and want action. ... There has to be a first move, there has to be a first step, and that has to come from both sides."
Watch the video above.