A protester in Charlotte gave out free hugs to police in riot gear — and they were incredibly grateful

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Activist Ken Nwadike went to Charlotte, North Carolina, not to protest, but to hug.

He strode up to a line of law-enforcement officer who were suited up in riot gear, and gave one a hug.

The officers looked surprised at first, but then broke into smiles.

"Thank you for being out here and being peaceful," the officer said as he embraced Nwadike.

Some of the other protesters yelled at Nwadike, calling him names and demanding to know why he was on "their side."

"It's about staying neutral, that's what's important," he told them. "I see them as human beings, just like I see everybody on this side as human beings. We're all human. His uniform doesn't make him a robot. Just like your uniform, your skin color, doesn't make you a criminal."

See photos from the past days and nights of protests in Charlotte:

22 PHOTOS
Days and nights of unrest in Charlotte since death of Keith Lamont Scott
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Days and nights of unrest in Charlotte since death of Keith Lamont Scott
A policeman dressed in riot gear watches protesters during another night of protests over the police shooting of Keith Scott in Charlotte, North Carolina, U.S. September 22, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Blake
CHARLOTTE, NC - SEPTEMBER 23: Demonstrators take a break from marching as a helicopter flies above on September 23, 2016 in Charlotte, NC. Protests began on Tuesday night following the fatal shooting of 43-year-old Keith Lamont Scott at an apartment complex near UNC Charlotte. A state of emergency was declared overnight in Charlotte and a midnight curfew was imposed by mayor Jennifer Roberts, to be lifted at 6 a.m. Despite a midnight curfew, police allowed the peaceful march to continue without interference. (Photo by Sean Rayford/Getty Images)
CHARLOTTE, NC - SEPTEMBER 22: Demonstrators march in protest on September 22, 2016 in Charlotte, NC. Protests began on Tuesday night following the fatal shooting of 43-year-old Keith Lamont Scott at an apartment complex near UNC Charlotte. A state of emergency was declared overnight in Charlotte and a midnight curfew was imposed by mayor Jennifer Roberts, to be lifted at 6 a.m. Despite a midnight curfew, police allowed the peaceful march to continue without interference. (Photo by Sean Rayford/Getty Images)
A U.S. National guard soldier accepts a hug from protester as people march through downtown to protest the police shooting of Keith Scott in Charlotte, North Carolina, U.S., September 22, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Blake TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
National Guard personnel assemble at the National Guard Armory after NC Gov. Pat McCrory ordered a state of emergency following protests against the police shooting of Keith Scott, in Charlotte, North Carolina, U.S. September 22, 2016. REUTERS/Jason Miczek
A man peers through the damage to the Hyatt House hotel in uptown Charlotte, NC that happened during a protest of the police shooting of Keith Scott, in Charlotte, North Carolina, U.S. September 22, 2016. REUTERS/Jason Miczek
Demonstrators march against the Charlotte police shooting of Keith Lamont Scott in Manhattan, New York, U.S., September 21, 2016. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Carolina Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis speaks to the media on Thursday, Sept. 22, 2016 about being an African-American male, being a father, the need for change and the possible importance of releasing the video of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department officer Brentley Vinson's fatal shooting of Keith Lamont Scott on Tuesday evening at The Village at College Downs apartment complex in the University City area. (Jeff Siner/Charlotte Observer/TNS via Getty Images)
Protesters attend a demonstration against police brutality in Charlotte, North Carolina, on September 21, 2016, following the shooting of Keith Lamont Scott the previous day. A protester shot during a second night of unrest in Charlotte, North Carolina was critically wounded, the city said, after earlier reporting that the person had died. / AFP / NICHOLAS KAMM (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
CHARLOTTE, NC - SEPTEMBER 22: Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Kerr Putney, right, and Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts field questions from the media September 22, 2016 in Charlotte, North Carolina. Protests began on Tuesday night following the fatal shooting of 43-year-old Keith Lamont Scott at an apartment complex near UNC Charlotte. (Photo by Sean Rayford/Getty Images)
TOPSHOT - Protesters hold signs during a demonstration against police brutality in Charlotte, North Carolina, on September 21, 2016, following the shooting of Keith Lamont Scott the previous day. A protester shot during a second night of unrest in Charlotte, North Carolina was critically wounded, the city said, after earlier reporting that the person had died. / AFP / NICHOLAS KAMM (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
Blood covers the pavement where a person was shot in uptown Charlotte, NC during a protest of the police shooting of Keith Scott, in Charlotte, North Carolina, U.S. September 21, 2016. REUTERS/Jason Miczek TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
A car is reflected in a damaged window to a building after protests against the police shooting of Keith Scott, in Charlotte, North Carolina, U.S. September 22, 2016. REUTERS/Jason Miczek TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
CHARLOTTE, NC - SEPTEMBER 21: Police clash with protestors as residents and activists protest the death of Keith Scott September 21, 2016 in Charlotte, North Carolina. Scott, who was black, was shot and killed at an apartment complex near UNC Charlotte by police officers, who say they warned Scott to drop a gun he was allegedly holding. (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)
CHARLOTTE, NC - SEPTEMBER 21: People block traffic on the I-85 (Interstate 85) during protests following the death of a man shot by a police officer on September 21, 2016 in Charlotte, NC. The protests began the previous night following the fatal shooting of 43-year-old Keith Lamont Scott at an apartment complex near UNC Charlotte. (Photo by Sean Rayford/Getty Images)
CHARLOTTE, NC - SEPTEMBER 21: A police officer attempts to extinguish a fire on the I-85 (Interstate 85) during protests following the death of a man shot by a police officer on September 21, 2016 in Charlotte, NC. The protests began the previous night following the fatal shooting of 43-year-old Keith Lamont Scott at an apartment complex near UNC Charlotte. (Photo by Sean Rayford/Getty Images)
CHARLOTTE, NC - SEPTEMBER 21: Protestors march down W.T. Harris Blvd. September 21, 2016 in Charlotte, NC. The protests began the previous night following the fatal shooting of 43-year-old Keith Lamont Scott by a police officer at an apartment complex near UNC Charlotte. (Photo by Sean Rayford/Getty Images)
CHARLOTTE, NC - SEPTEMBER 21: Police and protesters carry a seriously wounded protester into the parking area of the the Omni Hotel during a march to protest the death of Keith Scott September 21, 2016 in Carolina. Scott, who was black, was shot and killed at an apartment complex near UNC Charlotte by police officers, who say they warned Scott to drop a gun he was allegedly holding. (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)
CHARLOTTE, NC - SEPTEMBER 21: Police officers face off with protestors on the I-85 (Interstate 85) during protests following the death of a man shot by a police officer on September 21, 2016 in Charlotte, NC. The protests began the previous night following the fatal shooting of 43-year-old Keith Lamont Scott at an apartment complex near UNC Charlotte. (Photo by Sean Rayford/Getty Images)
A man stands on a car in uptown Charlotte, NC to protest the police shooting of Keith Scott, in Charlotte, North Carolina, U.S. September 21, 2016. REUTERS/Jason Miczek TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Two women embrace while looking at a police officer in uptown Charlotte, NC during a protest of the police shooting of Keith Scott, in Charlotte, North Carolina, U.S. September 21, 2016. REUTERS/Jason Miczek TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
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Nwadike gave out hugs during a particularly violent night of protesting on Wednesday. The demonstrations were markedly more peaceful Thursday night, though the National Guard was deployed to the city and the mayor ordered a midnight curfew.

People were protesting after police shot Keith Lamont Scott dead on Tuesday, in an incident where police say he was armed, but his family insists he wasn't. Scott's death comes on the heels of another death in Tulsa, Oklahoma last week when a police officer there shot an unarmed black man, and was charged with felony manslaughter.

Nwadike, who started the Free Hugs Project after the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013, told Anderson Cooper Thursday night why he went to Charlotte.

"People are hurting, and I understand that. I think it was very tough for them to see a black man hugging police officers, which to me, doesn't really make sense," Nwadike said on CNN. "I don't see it as us vs. the police. We're all human beings. I was pointing out to them that those specific officers didn't do anything to them, and it's very important for us to spread love towards one another."

Watch the full video of Nwadike's passionate exchange with protesters and police below (contains some NSFW language):

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SEE ALSO: A public defender walking the streets of Charlotte has the most inspirational message for the protesters — and they're listening

DON'T MISS: These photos show the unrest in Charlotte following the fatal police shooting of Keith Lamont Scott

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