As protests erupt into conflict all over the United States, a Sheriff in Genesee County, Michigan showed what might be possible at many of the daytime protests if law enforcement officers choose peace.
Genesee County Sheriff Christopher Swanson was captured in many live videos putting down his riot gear and choosing to join a march in solidarity with the citizens protesting police brutality.
Addressing the protestors, Swanson said:
"We want to be with y'all for real so I took the helmet off and laid the batons down."
According to The New York Post, Swanson says he was prepared to greet protestors in full riot gear.
But he saw an "opportunity" for togetherness when he saw one of his officers fist bump a protestor.
Swanson spoke to a leader of the protest.
"And I said, 'What else do I need to do?' and he said, 'Walk with us'."
Swanson decided to trust the protestors and become one of them.
He later spoke of that moment to The New York Post:
"The best moment of my police career is when I said, 'Let's walk.' And we walked over a mile back to where it started and I could feel an instantaneous peace on both sides."
In a viral video addressing the infamous video of a police officer killing George Floyd, Swanson said:
"The only reason we're here is to make sure you've got a voice. That's it. Don't think for a second that he [Chauvin] represents who these cops are from all over the county and around the nation...These cops love you … so you tell us what we need to do."
The internet was inspired by Swanson's approach.
Marching into conflict takes courage, but bravery is also being willing to choose peace.