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'We messed up': Hanover man in viral video demonstrating George Floyd's death apologizes

Tina Locurto
York Dispatch
In a Facebook Live video taken Friday, Aug. 7, two men reenact the death of George Floyd while arguing with Black Lives Matter protesters at Hanover Square. The man kneeling is Jay McDougle. Photo credit: Leslie Sabatino

The organizer of a Black Lives Matter protest on Hanover Square said she was shocked when two men who disagreed with the group appeared Friday to reenact the in-custody death of George Floyd.

One of the men shown in a video of the exchange said it was a "clearly a bad move" and admits it was a mistake.

The video has been seen by hundreds of people on Facebook, where users identified half of the pair as Jay McDougle.

"I apologize if anything we did was taken the wrong way. It wasn't about race," McDougle told The York Dispatch in a statement on Tuesday. The other man "and I went there to have a civil discussion about the signs, then somewhere along the way he wanted to point out that kneeling on the back of the neck would not lead to asphyxiation."

McDougle added via Facebook Messenger that he thinks people need to realize that everyone has their own opinions, but "ours just happened to be put on video and twisted to fit the narrative to make us look like racists."

Hanover Square has become a meet-up spot for weekly protests supporting Black Lives Matter. 

Courtney Watson, an event organizer who attended Friday's protest and witnessed the events unfolding, said even though there have always been several people who argue with protesters, McDougle and the other man took it to a whole new level. 

"If somebody reenacted the Holocaust, everybody would be outraged. So why is it OK to mock a person of color who died?" the Abbottstown resident said. "I was very surprised that they went and reenacted it. That was a whole new level we weren't used to."

Watson said initially the two men showed up to tell protesters that it was impossible for Floyd to have died in the manner he did. They then demonstrated the action in front of protesters, who quickly grabbed their phones and began shooting video.

"It's not right. I feel like it's mocking and belittling the movement," Watson added.

Several Facebook users took to the comments section to share their opinions, including user Emily Crites, who said she hopes "bad karma" comes their way.

The other man has since deleted his Facebook and Instagram accounts, according to both Watson and McDougle.

"We messed up. It wasn't with ill intent," McDougle said. "It was a bad judgment call to try to demonstrate in public like that over a very controversial topic."

— Reach Tina Locurto at tlocurto@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @tina_locurto.