This picture of Devonte Hart and Portland Police Sgt. Bret Barnum embracing in a hug at a Portland, Oregon rally, circulated the news and became a symbol of hope. With constant media attention focusing on violence and tragedy between law enforcement and the communities they serve, this picture welcomed a new conversation: a conversation of empathy and solutions.
This photo perfectly encapsulates Humankind Alliance’s mission. It represents the joining of communities and law enforcement and highlights the importance of coming together to solve this complex issue.
In March 2018, we learned of Devonte’s tragic disappearance after his intoxicated adoptive mother drove over a cliff in Mendocino County. The crash was fatal for parents Jennifer and Sarah Hart, and four of their six children. Devonte Hart and his sister Hannah are still missing but presumed to have also died in the crash. From this tragedy, new details of Devonte’s home life have surfaced and reveal a life of abuse. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/27/us/hart-family-crash.html.
Knowing these details gives this picture a new level of meaning; this touching interaction with Sgt. Bret Barnum could have been one of the last significant moments of Devonte’s short young life. This hug was a moment of safety and unconditional love, the likes of which were uncommon in his home, according to reports. Devonte’s face tells it all; he needed that hug for reasons beyond what we could’ve known.
Devonte and his siblings lived a life of abuse, fear, and neglect, and sadly is only one of hundreds of thousands of cases. We must recognize and continue to bring to the forefront the message that child abuse can happen to anyone. We as a community must come together to protect these children. With the breakdown in trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve, there is a higher risk of cases like this going unreported. Humankind Alliance is out to rebuild this trust, healing our country and creating a ripple effect of positive change, inevitably addressing a plethora of surrounding issues.
Here at Humankind Alliance, we honor Devonte Hart. We mourn his loss and aim to keep his spirit alive through this incredible photo. Devonte Hart’s story reignites our mission and reminds us why we must continue forward with purpose and drive together.
Humankind Alliance selected the photograph of Portland Police Sgt. Bret Barnum and the little boy we have later learned to know as Devonte Hart to represent what the mission of our non-profit organization is about (https://www.oregonlive.com/pacific-northwest-news/index.ssf/2018/03/the_story_behind_devonte_harts.html)
This photograph represents the joining of the community and its relationship with the police. The expression on Devonte’s face tells it all, his heart, his passion, and his belief that everyone has to come together to become one community.
His name and his family have been in the spotlight for a number of months due to the tragedy of his home situation (https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/27/us/hart-family-crash.html) To date, Devonte Hart’s whereabouts are unknown. Humankind Alliance feels strongly that we must keep Devonte’s spirit and memory alive. This hug has a whole new meaning for us, that this could be one of Devonte’s last significant moments of his short young life. Devonte and his siblings lived a life of abuse, one of hundreds and thousands of cases out there. We must recognize and continue to bring to the forefront the message that child abuse can happen to anyone. We as a community must protect these children and others from a life of abuse.