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Need a hug after election night? Buddhist priest brings them to St. Louis neigborhood

Need a hug after election night? Buddhist priest brings them to St. Louis neigborhood

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ST. LOUIS • A Buddhist priest decided Wednesday to help bring healing to a city neighborhood stunned by the election results.

For several hours, Tom Bradshaw stood at the corner of Shaw Boulevard and Klemm Street with a sign offering free hugs to passersby in the left-leaning neighborhood upset by the victory of Republican Donald Trump in the presidential election.

"My wife and I were scared because of the election results," Bradshaw said. "But I realized I can do something. It may not be big, but it's something."

A Buddhist priest since March, Bradshaw said some people's reactions to the election outcome reminds him not to fixate on negative thoughts.

For him that means sometimes focusing on the tasks of the day such as washing dishes. "That way we're attending to what needs to be done," he said.

A lot of people waved from their cars driving by and others honked their car horns. But some people took him up on his offer for a hug with enthusiasm.

"Getting a hug from him was on my to-do list this morning," said Crystal Merritt, who parked her car and crossed the street to receive a hug from Bradshaw.

She said she had seen a post on the Shaw community Facebook page heralding Bradshaw's efforts. Merritt said she made the hug a priority because "Trump triumphed."

Bradshaw said he had gotten the idea to publicly encourage people from another community staple on that corner, David Boger.

Boger spends a couple hours each week holding a "Black Lives Matter" poster near the memorial for VonDerrit Myers Jr., a teen killed by a police officer more than two years ago.

The lack of love in some of President-elect Donald Trump's messages is what is most distressing to Liz Burge, one of Bradshaw's neighbors, who decided to bring Bradshaw a snack while he offered hugs.

"(He was) the candidate who was most hateful and angry," Burge said, adding that she hoped the free hugs would help people.

But not all who stopped for a hug were distressed. One woman, even though a Hillary Clinton voter, said she still had hope.

"Because Trump stands for negativity doesn't mean we shouldn't see brighter days in the future," she said.

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