A black activist who rescued a white supremacist from a crowd of anti-Nazi protesters says he did it to show love in the face of so much hate.

Randy Furniss, of Idaho, was the focal point of that hate at the University of Florida last week, when he showed up wearing a swastika-covered T-shirt to attend a white supremacist rally. Protesters outside the rally quickly turned on Furniss, calling him “Nazi scum” and harassing him as he moved across the campus in Gainesville, Fla., before a protester punched Furniss in the face, then disappeared into the crowd.

Black activist Julius Long was part of that crowd, and when he saw the violence Furniss was facing, he decided to reach out rather than condemn him. He helped Furniss escape the crowd, then spoke with him at length about his views.

“What I was witnessing was reverse racism,” Long told CTV’s Your Morning on Tuesday. Long said the crowd’s treatment of Furniss reminded him of the violence his grandparents faced for expressing their views during the civil rights movement.

“It wasn’t right back then and it wasn’t right now,” he said.

Long says he spoke to Furniss in an effort to find some common ground, while also acknowledging what makes them different. “The conversation was a door opener, from one culture to the next,” Long said. “He just kind of realized being more open-minded is the way to go.”

Long said his faith informed his decision to respond to Furniss’ hateful attire by trying to “fill that void with love.”

Long and Furniss posed for a photo together, and the next day, Long helped Furniss file a police report about the physical altercation at the university.

“I even took him to one of our soul food restaurants down in Gainesville,” he added.

Long says it was worth reaching out to someone so opposed to his viewpoint, because he believes conversation is the only way to break down the barriers in an increasingly divided world.

“I think it’s just time to lead by example,” he said, adding: “Love doesn’t have a colour.”