Over the course of the last several weeks, deep-rooted tensions between police officers and communities of color have boiled over into instances of bloodshed and violence. And throughout the country, cops have been facing backlash following the seemingly unprovoked shootings of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and Philando Castile in Falcon Heights, Minnesota.
But despite the heightened tensions in recent days—including the killing of five police officers at a protest on Thursday—one cop recently took a small step toward bridging the gap between the police and public. Last week, when a Pennsylvania couple refused to sit next to Chuck Thomas at a local diner, the Homestead police officer didn't retaliate in anger, but rather went out of his way to pay for their food.
"A male and female were going to be seated across from us, and he said, 'I don't want to sit there, Thomas told ABC News. "We made eye contact, and his body language just told me that he wanted nothing to do with police."
"I looked over at him and said, 'You don't have to worry about it. We won't hurt you,'" the officer continued. "He said, 'No, I'm good. I don't want to sit there.'"
Still, as a showing of good faith, Thomas paid for the couple's meal, left a $10 tip, and posted a photo of the receipt on social media. The officer's Facebook features a profile picture of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and the post now boasts more than 4,000 likes and shares.
"Sir, your meal was paid for by the police officer that you didn't want to sit next to," he wrote on the check. "Thank you for your support."
Thomas' kind deed occurred one day after a sniper killed five officers at an otherwise peaceful Black Lives Matter protest in Dallas, Texas. While restaurants in other parts of the country have been accused of tampering with officers' food in recent days, Thomas says he wanted to help foster a healthy relationship between law enforcement and the citizen he' s worn to protect.
"The day after Dallas, it was tight. You could feel the tension in the air. A lot of people did come up to us and thank us and shook hands and spoke of their sorrow. This was the only negative experience of the day," he said. "What it really came down to was that, ultimately, I just wanted to let them know that we've got to better the relationship between police and the community."
[via ABC News]