Devonte Hart (post by Frank Somerville KTVU)

devondevon and mom
By now you have probably seen this picture of Devonte Hart being hugged by a police officer in Portland, Oregon.
(I’ll explain the other picture in a moment)It happened during protests over the Grand Jury decision in Ferguson.
It has to be one of the most touching pictures I’ve ever seen.
And here’s what Devonte’s mother Jenifer Hart wrote about it afterword:

“It was one of the most emotionally charged experiences I’ve had as a mother.
He trembled holding a Free Hugs sign as he bravely stood alone in front of the police barricade.
Tears rushing from his eyes and soaking his sweater, he gazed upon them not knowing how they would react.
After a while, one of the officers approached him and extended his hand.”

“Their interaction was uncomfortable at first.
He asked Devonte why he was crying.
(Devonte’s) response about his concerns regarding the level of police brutality towards young black kids was met with an unexpected and seemingly authentic (to Devonte), ‘Yes. *sigh* I know.
I’m sorry.
I’m sorry.’
The officer then asked if he could have one of his hugs.”

But as touching as this picture is, the story behind Devonte is just as touching.
That second picture is Devonte with his mother.
I read a story about him on a website called PaperTrail.
It was written by Chloe Johnson.

Lets just say it’s amazing that Devonte is even alive.
Here’s a condensed version of the story:

Devonte Hart entered the world 12 years ago with drugs pumping through his tiny newborn body.

By the time he was 4 years old he had smoked, consumed alcohol, handled guns, been shot at, and suffered severe abuse and neglect.
He knew only a handful of words, including f–k and s—t.

He was a violent toddler and his health was weighed down by a heavy list of disabilities.
It was a life with little hope and a future that seemed over before it began.

That is until Jen Hart and her wife Sarah entered Devonte’s life and adopted him and his two siblings seven years ago.

Jen says the day she met Devonte was frightening and traumatic.

“That night, after we finally got him to sleep, I cried harder than I had ever cried in my life.
I felt like there was no way we could raise this child, and the five others we had adopted.”

Yet, she says, “I felt more connected to this fragile little boy more than I had ever felt to anyone in my life.”

With their unconditional love, patience and acceptance, Devonte defied all odds and has grown into a young charismatic man with a heart of gold.

You can see the entire article at:

What an incredible family.
I don’t even know what else to say.
So instead I’ll you with a few more words from Devonte’s mother.

“(We need) authentic human interactions – listening to each other – facing fears with an open heart.
Tired of hearing about racial issues??
Turn off the television, phone, and computer.
Stop feeding problems through a screen and become part of the real life solution.”

I agree 100%.

Photo of Devonte hugging police officer courtesy of
Johnny Nguyen.

— with Lesli Riskey and Daisy KMorales Pangilinan.

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