Free Hugs. Almost arrested (yes, again…)
Almost arrested… yes, again. This time for giving FREE HUGS in Istanbul Turkey.
If you are curious about the first time I was almost arrested in a foreign country, you can read all about that HERE.
Picture this. California girl cruising around Taksim Square in Istanbul Turkey with a massive FREE HUGS sign written in 12 languages.
So there I was in Taksim Square just a few months after the big protest about the park being destroyed to build more shopping malls (as if there are not enough there already). I was wandering around when I decided this would be a great place to do some Free Hugs because of the high traffic flow of people there. Or maybe it wouldn’t be…
So with a trustworthy Turkish friend I had met at a party the night before, I choose a spot and pulled the sign out. Everything was going well- really well actually, as something was happening that has not happened before. Not only were people open to the free hugs, but they were also taking the sign from me and giving others free hugs too! This is awesome I thought as I began to film this new action. You can see a short clip of it here on my youtube channel.
And then, two plain clothed men approach me with very serious looks on their faces. One of the men says (in English) very sternly “I am the police. You must stop what you are doing right away.” Naturally I start laughing as I totally think this is a joke. The look on their faces tell me otherwise and my friend asks in Turkish for their identification. They pull out their badges and are indeed Turkish police. I look at the one who has asked me to stop and say “Your serious? I cannot hug people? When did your heart turn black my friend? This is very sad. Why can’t I hug people?” He replies that I need “permission” to do this sort of activity. Permission? Are you F%^$ing kidding me? Ok ok I say, “where do I get permission?” and he points to the gang of police that are behind a small barrier a few hundred meters away. Ok I say as I am still laughing- I will go ask permission to be kind to my fellow human beings.
So my friend and I (Yigit) walk over to the police and explain that we were told that we need permission to give free hugs and would like to have that permission. Reluctantly, we are granted the permission and joyfully commence giving free hugs to the people. Then again we are approached by another plain clothed policeman. When we explain that we have permission, he explains, “Yes, I know. I am the one who gave you permission. Now I am saying that you cannot do this any longer.” WTH? Ok ok we say and walk away. . . a few hundred meters and I tell Yigit that I would like to do it agin. He does not approve, but naturally this does not stop me. So again, the free hugs commence when… you guessed it, we are approached by another policeman who tells us to stop. This little game of moving around and getting caught by the police happens all around Taksim Square a few more times until the last time when I finally did stop.
A policeman approaches me and grabs my arm. He says to me “If you don’t stop this right now, I will arrest you”. Oh shit I understand those words I think as I shake free and yell to my friend “RUN!!” And away we ran – laughing and dancing through the sea of people as we escape the police. Never in my life could I have imagined that someone could be arrested for spreading love and kindness with fellow human beings. This is definitely a first for me…
Have you ever had an strange encounters when attempting some random acts of kindness? Do share your thoughts and/or stories in the comments section below!!