The Portland cop who hugged a Ferguson protester and saw the iconic image go viral worldwide has spoken and said the violence that has afflicted Ferguson, Missouri since the death of Michael Brown, and especially since the grand jury decided to not indict officer Darren Wilson for his death, is “setting everything back.”
Bret Barnum, the Portland cop who hugged Ferguson 12-year-old protester Devonte Hart, said in an interview with CNN that the protests in and of themselves are not necessarily a bad thing. Instead, he said it was the rioting was impacting all the work done between police and the communities they serve.
“I hope that those folks who want to vent and have their free speech events can continue that, and they can continue in a peaceful manner so that they can move about their streets and their communities and be vocal.”
He went on to say that relationship building was a vital part of the police department’s role in a community.
“I just hope that those folks who are creating the chaos and doing the damage to their communities realize that they’re setting everything back. All the hard work that police officers and community members are doing trying to come together and build those relationships — it’s the silent, smaller entity that is really detracting from the larger picture and the change that folks want.”
The Portland cop who hugged the Ferguson protester went on to say that the simple act of peace, hope, and love that his hug with Hart represented was something police officers across America experience on a daily basis, regardless of race, socioeconomic status or location.
“There are thousands of kids in Devonte’s situation. There are thousands of police officers that do what I did the other day. I would say that the silent majority of the community believe in the good work that the police officers do.”
The protests have hit a fever pitch in the last week following the announcement that Wilson would not face charges. Beyond protests in large cities from coast to coast, the St. Louis Rams made an show of solidarity with Ferguson protesters during Sunday’s blowout of the Oakland Raiders, when the team entered the field with hands up before beating the Raiders 52-0, the teams’ largest score so far this season.
What do you think about what Barnum had to say? Was he right in saying the riots were setting things back in terms of relations between police and the communities they serve? Tell us in the comments section below.