A Ferguson Photo That Might Actually Give You Hope

A picture of a teary-eyed 12-year-old Devonte Hart hugging Police Sgt. Bret Barnum at a Ferguson rally in Portland, Oregon exploded online

This week, the protests and outrage over the non-indictment of police officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown spread throughout the country, from the streets of Ferguson, Missouri to the west and east coasts.

Most of the images have been blazing: buildings set on fire, police cars tipped over, angry protestors throwing things at police.

But a 12-year-old African American boy and white police officer in Portland, Oregon created a rare moment of healing earlier this week.

Freelance photagrapher Johnny Nguyen captured an image of Devonte Hart, a young African American boy apparently overcome with sadness, hugging white police officer Bret Barnum.


According to Oregon Live, while emotions at the protest were at a boiling point, the officer noticed Hart holding a “Free Hugs” sign.

Free Hugs

“Do I get one of those?” Sgt. Barnum asked, and the two ensued in an embrace.

The two then went their separate ways.

The 12-year-old has his own powerful story that makes the moving image even more poignant. Born into poverty and an environment of drugs, reports say by age 4, he had already smoked, drank, played with guns, and been shot at.

He was then adopted at 5-years-old by Jen and Sarah Hart, who took him to the rally Tuesday.