Encounter at protest leads to hug for boy, officer

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Encounter at protest leads to hug for boy, officer
@dantefresh RT @WashTimes: #Ferguson protest picture of Portland boy hugging cop goes viral http://t.co/npZ856Y2HQ http://t.co/1L8qDqIE3i
Portland Police Sgt hugs 12y/o protester during #Ferguson demonstration.. RT & pass on a smile http://t.co/iVteXaGy2o http://t.co/G6xWj7DHwi
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 25: People protest in Times Square over the Ferguson grand jury decision to not indict officer Darren Wilson in the Michael Brown case November 25, 2014 in New York City. Brown, an 18-year-old black man, was killed by Darren Wilson, a white Ferguson, MO police officer, on August 9. Violent protests erupted across the nation yesterday after the grand jury's verdict was announced, most notably in Ferguson, MO, where more than 25 buildings were burned down and stores were looted. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY, UNITED STATES - NOVEMBER 25: Protestors marching from Union's square to Times Square and blocking the Lincoln Tunnel argue with the police during the protests in New York City on November 25, 2014 after the grand jury announcement on shooting of Michael Brown Ferguson shooting of unarmed black teenager, Michael Brown in Ferguson on August 9. A St. Louis County grand jury decided not to bring charges against Darren Wilson, a white Ferguson police officer, for fatally shooting Michael Brown. (Photo by Bilgin Sasmaz / Anadolu Agency / Getty Images)
A protester holds a sign that reads "We Stand With Ferguson," during a march in downtown Seattle, Tuesday, Nov. 25, 2014, to demonstrate against a grand jury's decision not to indict police officer Darren Wilson in the killing of Michael Brown. The peaceful march was a mix of students who walked out of schools and a coalition of clergy members. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Students rally at the University of Minnesota to protest police brutality, Tuesday, Nov. 25, 2014, in Minneapolis, following Monday's announcement that a grand jury has decided not to indict Ferguson, Mo., police officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of unarmed, black 18-year-old Michael Brown. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
A protester stands near a wall with a graffiti and police officers in Oakland, Calif., on Monday, Nov. 24, 2014, after the announcement that a grand jury decided not to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in the fatal shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed 18-year-old. Several thousand protesters marched through Oakland with some shutting down freeways, looting, burning garbage and smashing windows. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)
Protesters gather around burning refuse in Oakland, Calif., on Tuesday, Nov. 25, 2014, after the announcement that a grand jury decided not to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in the fatal shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed 18-year-old. Several thousand protesters marched through Oakland with some shutting down freeways, looting, burning garbage and smashing windows. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)
Asmera Smith holds up a photographic display of people allegedly killed by police during a protest outside the Chicago Police headquarters before the announcement of the grand jury decision not to indict police officer Darren Wilson in the fatal shooting of Michael Brown, Monday, Nov. 24, 2014, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
WASHINGTON D.C. - NOVEMBER 24: Protestors gather outside the White House on November 24, 2014 in Washington, DC after the announcement that the police officer Darren Wilson who shot and killed black teenager Michael Brown will not face charges. US President Barack Obama urged calm as violent protests broke out on the streets of Ferguson after a grand jury decided a white policeman will not face charges for killing a black teen. (Photo by Muhammed Bilal Kenasari/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Cliff Rogers, of East Orange, N.J.,marches with organizers during a rally in response to news of a grand jury deciding not to indict a Missouri police officer in the killing of a unarmed man, Tuesday, Nov. 25, 2014, in Newark, N.J. Organizers marched to the federal building in Newark in the wake of a grand jury decision on Monday not to indict Ferguson, Missouri, police officer Darren Wilson in the fatal shooting of unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown. The National Action Network also is calling for protests in Atlantic City, Paterson and Camden. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
Demonstrators gather Tuesday, Nov. 25, 2014, outside the Minneapolis Police Department's Third Precinct to protest Monday's announcement that a grand jury has decided not to indict Ferguson, Mo., police officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of unarmed, black 18-year-old Michael Brown. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 24: Protesters react to the St. Louis grand jury decision not to indict Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown November 24, 2014 in Chicago, Illinois. Michael Brown was shot by Officer Darren Wilson on August 9, 2014, his death sparked riots in Ferguson Missouri in August. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)
A demonstrator paints protest graffiti in Oakland, Calif., on Monday, Nov. 24, 2014, after the announcement of the grand jury decision not to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in the fatal shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed 18-year-old. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)
LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 24: A group of people gather to protest the grand jury's decision about the police Officer Darren Wilson shot the black teenager Michael Brown dead on November 24, 2014 in Los Angeles, United States. According to the jury's decision, Officer Wilson will not face criminal charges for killing Michael Brown. (Photo by Mintaha Neslihan Eroglu/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY, UNITED STATES - NOVEMBER 24: Activists march from New York City's Union Square to Times Square after learning that the police officer Darren Wilson, of the Ferguson, MO police department, who fatally shot teenager Michael Brown on August 9, would not be indicted by a grand jury on November 24, 2014 in New York City. The killing of Michael Brown inspired mass protests in the St. Louis suburb for over a month and has reignited conversations throughout the nation about race and police force. (Photo by Cem Ozdel/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - NOVEMBER 24: A protester lays on the ground during a moment of silence as they gather on the sidewalk at Broadway at Civic Center Park after learning a Grand jury decided November 24, 2014 not to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in Michael Brown's death on August 9, 2014. (Photo By John Leyba/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
Retired Captain Ray Lewis (L) of the Philadelphia Police department joins demonstrators display placards in front of the police station in Ferguson, Missouri, on November 24, 2014 to protest the death of 18-year-old black teenager Michael Brown, who was shot to death by a white police officer. The governor of the US state of Missouri urged calm on November 224 ahead of a verdict on whether to indict officer Darren Wilson for shooting dead unarmed Brown. There is no indication yet as to whether or not Wilson will face charges for the death of Brown on August 9, 2014 in Ferguson, a suburb just outside St Louis. The grand jury announcement will be made at the Buzz Westfall Justice Center in Clayton, Missouri, at 8:00 pm (0200 GMT Tuesday), St Louis County prosecutors said. AFP PHOTO/Jewel Samad (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)
Protesters lay down on a street, Rodeo Drive, Beverly Hills, in Los Angeles, Calf., Tuesday, Nov. 25, 2014, after the announcement of the grand jury decision not to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in the fatal shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed 18-year-old. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)
Protesters shut down Interstate 580 in Oakland, Calif., on Monday, Nov. 24, 2014, after the announcement of the grand jury decision not to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in the fatal shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed 18-year-old. Several thousand protesters marched through Oakland with some shutting down freeways multiple times, burning refuse and breaking windows on a news van. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 24: Josmar Trujillo, a member of 'New Yorkers Against Bratton,' protests outside an event where New York Police Department Commissioner Bill Bratton was speaking on November 24, 2014 in New York City. Trujillo and others are calling for the resignation of Bratton after an NYPD officer shot and killed a man in a public housing stairwell in Brooklyn last week. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
BREAKING: #NYC Police Commissioner Bratton splattered with fake blood at #Justice4MikeBrown protest http://t.co/GHa6ZWYcKq
James Cartmill holds an American flag while protesting in Oakland, Calif., on Monday, Nov. 24, 2014, after the announcement that a grand jury decided not to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in the fatal shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed 18-year-old. Several thousand protesters marched through Oakland with some shutting down freeways, looting, burning garbage and smashing windows. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)
NOT blood. I got between a protester's bucket of fake blood and Bill Bratton
WASHINGTON D.C. - NOVEMBER 24: A group of people gather to protest outside the White House after the grand jury's decision about the police Officer Darren Wilson shot the black teenager Michael Brown dead on November 24, 2014 in Washington, DC. The protestors walked to the U.S. Constitutional Court Headquarter in Washington. According to the jury's decision, Officer Wilson will not face criminal charges for killing Michael Brown. (Photo by Kasm Ileri/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON D.C. - NOVEMBER 24: A group of people gather to protest outside the White House after the grand jury's decision about the police Officer Darren Wilson shot the black teenager Michael Brown dead on November 24, 2014 in Washington, DC. The protestors walked to the U.S. Constitutional Court Headquarter in Washington. According to the jury's decision, Officer Wilson will not face criminal charges for killing Michael Brown. (Photo by Kasm Ileri/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON D.C. - NOVEMBER 24: A group of people gather to protest outside the White House after the grand jury's decision about the police Officer Darren Wilson shot the black teenager Michael Brown dead on November 24, 2014 in Washington, DC. The protestors walked to the U.S. Constitutional Court Headquarter in Washington. According to the jury's decision, Officer Wilson will not face criminal charges for killing Michael Brown. (Photo by Kasm Ileri/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
FERGUSON, UNITED STATES - NOVEMBER 24: A building burns after being set on fire during clashes between police and protesters over decision in the shooting death 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, on November 24, 2014. US President Barack Obama urged calm as violent protests broke out on the streets of Ferguson after a grand jury decided a white policeman will not face charges for killing a black teen. (Photo by Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY, UNITED STATES - NOVEMBER 24: Protestors arque with the riot police as the activists march from New York City's Union Square to Times Square after learning that the police officer Darren Wilson, of the Ferguson, MO police department, who fatally shot teenager Michael Brown on August 9, would not be indicted by a grand jury on November 24, 2014 in New York City. The killing of Michael Brown inspired mass protests in the St. Louis suburb for over a month and has reignited conversations throughout the nation about race and police force. (Photo by Cem Ozdel/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY, UNITED STATES - NOVEMBER 24: Protestors arque with the riot police as the activists march from New York City's Union Square to Times Square after learning that the police officer Darren Wilson, of the Ferguson, MO police department, who fatally shot teenager Michael Brown on August 9, would not be indicted by a grand jury on November 24, 2014 in New York City. The killing of Michael Brown inspired mass protests in the St. Louis suburb for over a month and has reignited conversations throughout the nation about race and police force. (Photo by Cem Ozdel/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY, UNITED STATES - NOVEMBER 24: Activists march from New York City's Union Square to Times Square after learning that the police officer Darren Wilson, of the Ferguson, MO police department, who fatally shot teenager Michael Brown on August 9, would not be indicted by a grand jury on November 24, 2014 in New York City. The killing of Michael Brown inspired mass protests in the St. Louis suburb for over a month and has reignited conversations throughout the nation about race and police force. (Photo by Cem Ozdel/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY, UNITED STATES - NOVEMBER 24: Protestors arque with the riot police as the activists march from New York City's Union Square to Times Square after learning that the police officer Darren Wilson, of the Ferguson, MO police department, who fatally shot teenager Michael Brown on August 9, would not be indicted by a grand jury on November 24, 2014 in New York City. The killing of Michael Brown inspired mass protests in the St. Louis suburb for over a month and has reignited conversations throughout the nation about race and police force. (Photo by Cem Ozdel/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY, UNITED STATES - NOVEMBER 24: Protestors arque with the riot police as the activists march from New York City's Union Square to Times Square after learning that the police officer Darren Wilson, of the Ferguson, MO police department, who fatally shot teenager Michael Brown on August 9, would not be indicted by a grand jury on November 24, 2014 in New York City. The killing of Michael Brown inspired mass protests in the St. Louis suburb for over a month and has reignited conversations throughout the nation about race and police force. (Photo by Cem Ozdel/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Protesters shut down Interstate 580 in Oakland, Calif., on Monday, Nov. 24, 2014, after the announcement of the grand jury decision not to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in the fatal shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed 18-year-old. Several thousand protesters marched through Oakland with some shutting down freeways multiple times, burning refuse and breaking windows on a news van. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)
A police officer tries unsuccessfully to keep a protester from blocking Interstate 580 in Oakland, Calif on Monday, Nov. 24, 2014, after the announcement of the grand jury decision not to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in the fatal shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed 18-year-old. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)
Dante Kaleo holds a protest sign while marching on Interstate 580 in Oakland, Calif., on Monday, Nov. 24, 2014, after the announcement of the grand jury decision not to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in the fatal shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed 18-year-old. Several thousand protesters marched through Oakland with some shutting down freeways multiple times, burning refuse and breaking windows on a news van. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)
Police officers try to clear demonstrators blocking Interstate 580 in Oakland, Calif., on Monday, Nov. 24, 2014, after the announcement of the grand jury decision not to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in the fatal shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed 18-year-old. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)
Protestors clasp hands as they march up Seventh Avenue towards Times Square after the announcement of the grand jury decision not to indict police officer Darren Wilson in the fatal shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed 18-year-old black man, Monday, Nov. 24, 2014, in New York. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
Standing in the middle of Interstate 580, a protester confronts police officers trying to reopen the highway in Oakland, Calif., on Monday, Nov. 24, 2014, after the announcement of the grand jury decision not to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in the fatal shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed 18-year-old. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)
Protesters block Interstate 580 in Oakland, Calif., on Monday, Nov. 24, 2014, after the announcement of the grand jury decision not to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in the fatal shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed 18-year-old. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)
Police officers detain one of the several hundred protesters blocking Interstate 580 in Oakland, Calif., on Monday, Nov. 24, 2014, after the announcement of the grand jury decision not to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in the fatal shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed 18-year-old. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)
Protestors march up Seventh Avenue towards Times Square after the announcement of the grand jury decision not to indict police officer Darren Wilson in the fatal shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed 18-year-old black man, Monday, Nov. 24, 2014, in New York. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
Activists in Los Angeles prepare for possible rallies as they await news of the grand jury's decision not to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in the fatal shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed black 18-year-old, at the Leimert Park area of Los Angeles, on Monday, Nov. 24, 2014. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)
Protesters fill Times Square during a march after the announcement of the grand jury decision not to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in the fatal shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed black 18-year-old, Monday, Nov. 24, 2014, in New York. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 24: A group of people gather to protest the grand jury's decision about the police Officer Darren Wilson shot the black teenager Michael Brown dead on November 24, 2014 in Los Angeles, United States. According to the jury's decision, Officer Wilson will not face criminal charges for killing Michael Brown. (Photo by Mintaha Neslihan Eroglu/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 24: A group of people gather to protest the grand jury's decision about the police Officer Darren Wilson shot the black teenager Michael Brown dead on November 24, 2014 in Los Angeles, United States. According to the jury's decision, Officer Wilson will not face criminal charges for killing Michael Brown. (Photo by Mintaha Neslihan Eroglu/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 25: Protesters and police clash in front of LAPD Headquarters as people react to the grand jury decision not to indict a white police officer who had shot dead an unarmed black teenager in Ferguson, Missouri, in the early morning hours of November 25, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. Police officer Darren Wilson shot 18-year-old Michael Brown on August 9, sparking large ongoing protests. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)
Protestors march November 25, 2014 in Los Angeles, one day after a grand jury decision not to prosecute a white police officer for the killing of an unarmed black teen in Ferguson, Missouri. AFP PHOTO / Robyn Beck (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)
Protesters march in downtown Seattle, Tuesday, Nov. 25, 2014, to demonstrate against a grand jury's decision not to indict police officer Darren Wilson in the killing of Michael Brown. The peaceful march was a mix of students who walked out of schools and a coalition of clergy members. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
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PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) - An African-American boy holding a "Free Hugs" sign stood crying in front of a police barricade at a Ferguson rally in Portland. A white police officer motioned for him to come closer. The officer then asked the boy for a hug - and they embraced, the boy's anguished face streaming with tears.

A photographer captured the encounter earlier this week, and the photo has become popular on social media. It's an unusual image as people around the country protest a grand jury's decision to not indict a white police officer in the fatal shooting of an unarmed black teenager in Ferguson, Missouri.

In Portland, both the boy and the officer - 12-year-old Devonte Hart and Portland Police Sgt. Bret Barnum - took unusual steps when they met on Tuesday.

The boy's mother Jennifer Hart, who is white, wrote on social media that her son had been struggling with issues of police brutality and racism.

Devonte is one of six children adopted by Hart and her wife, Sarah Hart of West Linn, a suburb of Portland.

A day after the decision on officer Darren Wilson in the shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown, the Harts went downtown "with the intention of spreading love and kindness" by holding signs such as "You Matter" and "Free Hugs," Jennifer Hart said. The family then joined the nearby Ferguson rally.

Barnum, who works for the traffic division, had been dispatched to a downtown intersection to help with traffic and crowd control. In the middle of the block, hundreds of protesters listened to speeches about the relationship between police and black residents.

Earlier that week, when an officer posted on Facebook a badge of the Portland Police Bureau with an "I am Darren Wilson" banner, Barnum had "liked" the post. The officers were later ordered to remove the images and the matter is under an internal investigation.

Barnum said he "liked" the image out of solidarity for the police profession, not because he supports Wilson.

A couple days later, Devonte Hart stood on the outskirts of the Portland rally, about 10 feet away from Barnum. He was trembling, his mom said. Tears were rolling down his cheeks.

"Devonte was struggling. He wouldn't speak. He was inconsolable," his mother wrote. "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."

Barnum told The AP he noticed the boy and wondered what was wrong. So he motioned for him to come up to his motorcycle.

The officer asked for his name and shook his hand. He also asked Devonte where he went to school (he is homeschooled), what he did this summer (he traveled around the U.S. with his family), and what he likes to do (art). The tears stopped.

Barnum has two teenage sons and has worked for Portland's police force for 21 years. While continuing to talk to Devonte, he looked at the "Free Hugs" sign on the ground and asked if he might get a hug as well.

Devonte put his arms around the officer.

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

Hart said the moment was about "listening to each other, facing fears with an open heart."

More in the news:
Mo. governor warns of depleting funds for emergency response
16 arrested as demonstrations return to Ferguson
Ferguson timeline: Key events after Michael Brown's death

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