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The Power of a Simple Act

"All is not lost.  The Power of a Simple Act and a Simple Image."  - DJK

Sgt. Bret Barnum (left) and Devonte Hart take pause amid an otherwise hectic Ferguson rally in Portland earlier this week. Johnny Nguyen/Special to the Oregonian (Johnny Nguyen/Special to The Oregonian)
As thousands gathered to make their voices heard during a rally earlier this week, one officer and a young man paused to hear each other out.

This image, shot by freelance photographer Johnny Nguyen, shows Portland Police Sgt. Bret Barnum hugging 12-year-old Devonte Hart during the Ferguson demonstration in Portland on Nov. 25, 2014.

According to Sgt. Barnum, the interaction took place at the beginning of the rally. With emotions running high as speakers were addressing the crowd, he noticed a young man with tears in his eyes holding a "Free Hugs" sign among a group of people.

devontefamily.jpgView full size Devonte Hart with his family at the annual celebration of "The Goonies" movie in Astoria in June 2014.Thomas Boyd/The Oregonian 

Sgt. Barnum motioned him over and the two started talking about the demonstration, school, art and life. As the conversation ended, Sgt. Barnum pointed to his sign and asked, "Do I get one of those?" The moment following his question was captured in the photo above, which shows Devonte's eyes welling up with tears once again as he embraces the officer. 

Devonte, it turns out, has a life story that's almost as big as his heart.
His parents, Sarah and Jennifer Hart, shared more of Devonte's story in a Facebook posting.

After the exchange, Devonte rejoined his family and friends participating in the rally and Sgt. Barnum, a 21-year-veteran, went back about his duties.

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