Powerful Image of Cop Hugging Crying Boy During Ferguson Protest Gives Us Hope (PHOTO)

ferguson protestEverything involving the death of Michael Brown and the case against officer Darren Wilson brings out emotions. Many have protested in the wake of Wilson being cleared of any charges in the shooting death of Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. And one protest brought out hope. Twelve-year-old Devonte Hart was at the protest in Portland, Oregon, carrying a sign around his neck that said "free hugs". Officer Bret Barnum was there to make sure the protests remained peaceful and when he saw Devonte's sign, he asked if he could have one. It's one of the most powerful images I've seen -- a white police officer hugging a young black boy with tearing streaming down his face.



Let this be the image to help us heal, to help us find a common ground and come together to put our differences aside and work toward a better future.

Devonte is one of six children adopted by Jennifer and Sarah Hart. He has had his own struggles with racism and police brutality, so this protest was very personal for him. The family went to downtown Portland in hopes to "spread love and kindness" -- they held signs that read "You Matter" and "Free Hugs." On her son, Jennifer wrote on social media:

Devonte was struggling. He wouldn't speak. He was inconsolable. My son has a heart of gold, compassion beyond anything I've ever experienced, yet struggles with living fearlessly when it comes to the police... He wonders if someday when he no longer wears a 'Free Hugs' sign around his neck, when he's a full-grown black male, if his life will be in danger for simply being.

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Officer Barnum, a 21 year veteran of the police department and father of two teenage sons, saw the 12-year-old crying so he motioned him to come talk to him. The two shook hands and Officer Barnum asked him his name, where he went to school, and what he likes to do. Devonte stopped trembling and crying. The two continued to talk and then referencing the "Free Hugs" sign around Devonte's neck, Barnum asked if he could have one. The emotion from these two men is so powerful. Officer Barnum said:

Knowing how he struggled with police, his bravery and courage to catch my eye and approach me were impressive. And it's a blessing for me that I didn't miss an opportunity to impact this child.

Devonte said this moment was about "listening to each other, facing fears with an open heart." We could all learn a lot from this 12-year-old. Thank you, Devonte. You are inspiring, and give me hope. And thank you Officer Barnum for reaching out and working to build trust within all of our communities.

Did the image make you emotional?


Images via Johnny Nguyen/Chamber Visuals/Instagram

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