When the demonstrators pleaded with the black U.S. intelligence officer to kneel in solidarity with law enforcement demonstration against racism and brutality, the young man explained why he could not.
"I appreciate all of this … I'm still black. Do you see what I say? You are still fighting for my rights," the unidentified officer told the demonstrators through a fence outside the financial building in Washington. "What I am saying is that we simply cannot do it technically."
Saturday's interaction, recorded by Reuters TV, took place during the U.S. capital's largest rally to date, when tens of thousands marked the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, in Minneapolis police custody on May 25.
From federal law enforcement agencies to small town urban police forces, African-American officials have had to be at the forefront of many protests over the past 13 days in US cities and smaller communities across the country.
Some of those who demonstrated in front of the finance department next to the White House said they understood the official's situation.
"I'm a soldier. And when you're in uniform, there are certain things you can and can't do," a protester told the crowd. Another punched the officer through the fence.
Others sang, "Take your knee. Do it. Do it. Take your knee. Take your knee. Just take it."
They applauded when a black intelligence officer stepped forward and knelt briefly.
A third black intelligence officer told the mostly African-American demonstrators that he respected their motivation to protest.
"I got into this job because I grew up in Georgia. What I saw was the stories I had to hear from my parents," said the third official. "But I also speak to you as another black man, just to say that's something that encourages me. And just as you're out there for me, consider what I'm doing here for you."
Nationwide demonstrators are trying to direct the focus of the protests to a broader effort to reform the US criminal justice system and treat minorities.
In a passionate speech last week, Winston-Salem, North Carolina police chief Catrina Thompson told demonstrators that the actions of those accused of Floyd's death did not represent the majority of the U.S. police.
As the mother of a black teenager with autism, "who may not be able to respond to an officer telling him to put his hands up," she said, "I would not be in this position in any way Support Form or Shape Everyone in our organization if I thought they would harm my son or one of you. "
(This story was not edited by NDTV staff and is generated automatically from a syndicated feed.)