Officer Carlton Wilhoit scrolled through social media posts before he went to work on Sunday reading many anti-police statements.
As the Washington Post describes it, he suited up and went to work as protesters continued to surround the White House. He, along with his colleagues, were standing in the middle of 16th Street with a crowd of about 60 protesters implored him, “kneel for us.” He said he knew he had to.
American police kneel down infront of angry protests to ask for forgiveness on behalf of their colleague 😰🙏😭 pic.twitter.com/xL2psBcxJ9
— Simon Madowa (@simonmadowa) June 1, 2020
“For me, kneeling was the right thing to do,” the young officer told the Post. “At the end of the day, I’m black first. If I were to lose my job today or tomorrow, or if I were to choose a different career path, one thing that would still remain when I take this uniform off is I’m a black man.”
“In that moment, it wasn’t about kneeling to appease anybody,” he continued. “I was kneeling because I wanted to show my people I’m with them in solidarity. … It would have ate me up if those protesters were like, ‘Kneel with us, kneel with us,’ and I said, ‘No.’ It would have ate me up.”
THIS IS HOW ITS MEANT TO BE.
This is how Miami police met crowds protesting the death of George Floyd and the scourge of racism in America today. This is class🥰 Hats off to the officers in Miami 🙌 #BLACK_LIVES_MATTERS #protests2020 pic.twitter.com/iDG2MbMb6h
— Bella #BLACKLIVESMATTER (@RealArabellaTom) May 31, 2020
The photos that have given hope to many have been the scores of police joining hands with protesters, fist-bumping, hugging, kneeling and police solidarity with fists stretched toward the sky.
“The fact that some officers were willing to do that means there is a trend, a hopeful trend,” said former cop and city attorney Michael Tobin. “To an outside observer those might seem little steps. From my perspective, those are huge, significant steps forward.”