As Black Lives Matter demonstrations continue to be held across the nation in the wake of George Floyd’s death, Nick Viall looked back on the “eye-opening moment” when he was almost arrested but ultimately “let off” because of his race.
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“I did want to tell you guys a story, a story about the first time I was arrested. By first, I mean only time. I was detained. It was about 10 years ago. I was still living in Milwaukee,” the Bachelor alum, 39, said on his podcast, “The Viall Files,” on Wednesday, June 3. “I went out to the bars with my best friend and my girlfriend at the time and his girlfriend at the time, now wife.”
Viall told listeners that Milwaukee is “a pretty segregated city,” specifically the strip of bars and restaurants downtown on the famed Water Street. He guesstimated that 80 to 90 percent of patrons are white.
“So at the end of the night, we’re leaving the bars, and my best friend is the type of lovable guy who sometimes when he drinks, you’ve got to make sure you know where he is. He’s very social. You can lose him quickly. He will talk to anyone. A guy you gotta keep an eye on. We all have that friend,” he recalled. “We’re leaving the bar, and I’m with my girlfriend and his girlfriend, and all of a sudden we lose him. We’re outside and it’s, like, chaotic. There’s cops on horses, and the first thing you do when you walk outside of the bar is you see this giant horse. You’ve had a few drinks, you want to, like, look at the horse and touch the horse, and the cops are like, ‘Don’t touch the horse!’ I’m like, ‘Well, why are you right in our face?’ So there’s a lot of confusion, and people are drinking and drunk.”
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The reality star explained that he decided to call his friend in an attempt to find him when a police officer approached the group.
“This cop comes up to me and goes, ‘Get out of here!’ Starts screaming at me, cussing. I’m like, ‘Yeah, no problem, man. Just gonna grab my friend and I’ll be out of here,’” he said. “And then for whatever reason … he just did a beeline over to me and said, ‘You’re under arrest.’”
Viall remembered being “thrown” into a police van and feeling “kind of panicked” because he was not sure what he had done wrong. He looked around the vehicle and saw “one other white kid and a bunch of black young men,” approximately 15 people in total.
“My then-girlfriend and her friend are panicked, and they go find this friendly-looking cop and they’re like, ‘What’s going on? Our friend got arrested for no reason. We were just standing there,’” he recounted. “Here you have two little, cute girls going up to a cop and pleading for their friend. And for my sake, thankfully, he went and found the arresting officer and convinced him to let me go.”
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The Bachelorette alum told listeners that he will “never forget” what the arresting officer said to him next: “We shouldn’t be arresting people like you.”
“It was so clear to me at the time that what he meant was because I’m white, and it was so obvious. And he said it to me in a way, and I remember being, like, so offended by him saying that, because he said it to me as if I would acknowledge what he said, being like, ‘Yeah, why are you arresting me?’ Like I would agree with him,” he said. “It was just such an eye-opening moment. Like, holy s–t, this stuff still goes on. There’s no doubt in my mind that the only reason I was let off that night was because I was white.”
Viall shared the story while discussing Floyd, who died on May 25 after Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin pressed his knee into the 46-year-old’s neck for nearly nine minutes. Videos of the unarmed black man crying out, “I can’t breathe” went viral on social media and led to protests in all 50 states. Chauvin, 44, has since been fired and charged with second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
For more information, visit Blacklivesmatter.com.