We don’t yet know if 15-year-old Devonte Hart died when his adoptive white mother, Jen Hart, 38, stomped on the gas pedal and drunkenly, intentionally, drove her 2003 GMC Yukon right off the edge of America. We do know the SUV plunged 100 feet down the cliffside and crashed into the Pacific Ocean, killing Jen Hart, along with Sarah Hart, 38, Devonte’s other adoptive white mother, and four of his siblings: Markis, 19; Jeremiah, 14; Abigail, 14; and Ciera, 12.
The apparent murder-suicide remains an open mystery.
At present, Devonte is listed as missing. Local authorities haven’t recovered his body, nor have they located his sister, Hannah Hart, 16. It’s been two months since Jen Hart drove her family to their death. Lacking any reported sightings of either of the missing black kids anywhere in the surrounding rural Northern California area, both children are presumed dead. The most likely conclusion: They were consumed by the Pacific Ocean, never to be seen again.
This tragic story is Devonte’s second brush with heartbreaking viral fame in just the last four years of his young life. In fact, for a few months, back in 2014 and 2015, his crying face was all over social media. He was the black boy who hugged a white cop at a protest of the shooting death of Michael Brown. The famous photo, dubbed “the Hug Heard ‘Round the World,” also known as the “Ferguson Hug,” captured our ailing nation’s attention. Not just in America, but globally, his crying face pressed against a policeman’s chest suggested a spontaneous moment of healing.
This is Devonte Hart, when he was 12 years old.
In light of what we now know about his murderous adoptive white mothers — who’d been cited for a pattern of repeated child abuse dating back to 2008 — this powerful image twists into a more potent symbol. A symbol of systemic failure. Far more heartbreaking than anyone imagined at the time.
Look at how Devonte clings to the officer. His face is a mask of trauma. His tears have a history behind them, but not the one easily presumed. The truth was: Devonte Hart was clinging to a person whose job it was to protect him from harm. And he was sobbing. Quite possibly because he knew this police officer could not, nor would not, protect him from his abusive adoptive white mothers. He wasn’t just crying about his fears of racist police violence; he had more immediate fears of domestic violence.
Sadly, his fears for his life would be proven correct.
According to Texas Department of Family and Protective Services statements, the Harts first adopted three black children from Colorado County in the Houston area in 2006. They picked biological siblings: Markis, Hannah and Abigail. Apparently, the Harts liked being adoptive mothers, since three years later, they adopted a second set of siblings from nearby Harris County, also in the Houston area: Devonte, Jeremiah and Ciera. Devonte and his two biological siblings had been adopted out of foster care, where they’d been placed after they’d been taken from their mother, a black woman in the system.
Sherry Davis’ children were forcibly removed from her home by Texas authorities due to her struggle with cocaine addiction. Initially, Devonte and his siblings were placed with their aunt, Priscilla Celestine. But when their caseworker made a surprise visit to the aunt’s home and found Davis alone and unsupervised with her own children, they were placed in foster care.
According to reports from Oregon Live:
The caseworker testified during a district court hearing that she had previously told Celestine that the mother couldn’t have contact with the kids, the opinion said. Celestine testified that she wasn’t home when the caseworker visited, and it was her daughter who let the mother in to see the kids. The children were then placed in foster care. Celestine filed a petition in May 2007 to adopt all four children while they were being cared for by the state. The petition was denied in Harris County District Court the next year. Celestine filed a motion for a new trial, and that was denied as well.
Meanwhile, Davis, who was complying with her court-ordered drug treatment program, also fought to get her children home. But before she could get them back, they were adopted by a couple in Minnesota: the Harts.
In the U.S., foster parents are given monthly payments from the state for taking care of their children. As reported in the San Antonio Express-News, according to the Texas state comptroller, Jen Hart received $1,897 in her latest monthly allotment on March 2. In total, the state of Texas paid the Harts roughly $277,000 between 2009 and 2018. The money is called adoption subsidies. Essentially, the Harts were the legal parents of their children, but Texas paid them to take care of the kids, like they were still in foster care. This is, presumably, to ensure the kids are properly cared for.
But how could Texas state authorities know the level of care the kids received since the Harts lived in Minnesota?
In an interstate adoption — such as the Hart case — the two states have to coordinate their vetting and adoptive-care training programs. Obviously then, things can fall through the cracks. Things such as: Some time during the six-month trial period when Devonte was relocated to Minnesota, the police were called to the Hart home. A six-year-old child in the Harts’ care, whose name and gender were redacted in the police records, told the officers that Jen Hart had beaten the child with a belt.
During an interview with the police from Alexandria, Minnesota, though, both Jen and Sarah Hart projected a unified front of innocence. Relying on the persuasiveness of whiteness, they told the cops the bruises were a complete mystery to them. But they did recall that, days earlier, the six-year-old child had fallen down stairs. The San Antonio Express-News reported that “the couple also told police that the child had been ‘constantly going through food issues,’ including stealing snacks at school and eating out of garbage cans or off the floor.”
Still, according to the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat, the local police and Douglas County Social Services closed the case. And despite this initial warning sign — clear evidence of danger to the children’s welfare — the Harts managed to complete their six-month trial period in Minnesota. They formally adopted their second set of Texas-born siblings in 2009. The little black boy named Devonte Davis was now Devonte Hart.
One year later, in 2010, their six-year-old daughter, Abigail Hart, complained to her school teacher that she had “owies” on her stomach and back. Per the police report filed, “With the child’s permission, the teacher lifted her shirt and saw that, indeed, the child had bruises on her front from her sternum to a point above her belly button, and on her back from midway down her back to the waistband of her pants.”
The teacher asked Abigail how she got so many bruises. She replied, “Mom hit me.” The teacher called authorities. A police officer and social worker arrived and interviewed Abigail. They took pictures as evidence of the domestic assault. They also asked Jen and Sarah to come in for separate questioning. In their interview, both moms told the same story: Sarah had spanked Abigail the night before and gotten a little carried away.
What led to the spanking? A penny. The moms had found a penny in the little girl’s pocket. When she told them where she found it, they didn’t believe her. They called the girl a liar. Then, one of the moms — Abigail first reported that Jen was the one who beat her, and held her head underwater, although later, Sarah claimed credit — bent the child over a bathtub and spanked her, which resulted in the pattern of bruises up and down her body. The beating was so severe that Sarah Hart was convicted of domestic violence, but her sentence was suspended. In lieu of more severe punishment, the adoptive parents agreed to submit to in-home therapy, rounds of counseling and “skill-building activities.”
Quite a different legal response to two white mothers who endanger their adopted children, one of whom gets convicted of assault, versus a black mother who gets caught by a caseworker as she spends time with her biological children during an unsupervised visit.
The next year, in 2011, elder sister Hannah reported to a school nurse that she wasn’t being fed. When authorities questioned Sarah Hart about what her daughter said, she claimed Hannah was “playing the food card” — whatever that is. Sarah added that the child should just be given water. This official 2013 report, from the Oregon Department of Human Services, documenting the history of abuse and neglect of the Hart children, recounts how a Minnesota child welfare worker said that “after a while the school stopped calling the parents about the child(ren) taking food, because they didn’t want the children being disciplined or punished.” From that same official report, “The Minnesota Child Welfare worker said the problem is ‘these women look normal.’”
The report went on to compile a narrative of all the calls to social services made during the Harts’ time in Minnesota. There are six incidents listed. But only two were determined to be “founded,” according to Minnesota standards. And as the report notes, the state of Texas deserves a large share of the blame. “Without any regular or consistent academic or medical oversight, and unknown child welfare reviews through State of Texas for either foster/adopt subsidies, these children risk falling through the cracks.”
Check, too, this quote from an assessment made by Minnesota social services workers: “Abigail who was 6 years old, looked like she was 2 years old, and was taken to the doctor who said, ‘She is just small, and being adopted, we don’t know their bio family history.’” It also cites how whenever Jen and Sarah Hart were confronted about their malnourished children, “The couple always makes reference to the children being adopted, and being ‘high-risk’ kids, who have food issues.”
Much like a lowkey Get Out but with black children, Jen and Sarah Hart weren’t obvious monsters. But after Sarah was convicted on a domestic assault charge, that fiction would become hard to maintain in Minnesota. And so, they relocated to Oregon, and began to homeschool their children. Now, they’d be free from prying eyes that might report the children’s ongoing abuse. And in a state where homeschooling wasn’t a weird choice, the couple could once again blend in, lay low and look “normal.”
The problem was Oregon doesn’t have many black people. This is by design. Oregon was created to be a white state, which also means it probably wasn’t the best place for two white women to abscond with their brood of six adopted black children if they wanted to avoid attention.
In fact, it only took three months before Jen and Sarah Hart attracted the interest of authorities. A friend of the couple noticed how malnourished the Harts’ adopted black children looked. She felt the situation was dire enough that she needed to call Child Protective Services. In reports, her name is redacted. But now that the Harts are dead, we know her name is Alexandra Argyropoulos.
There was another woman — who knew Jen Hart from back in North Dakota, when Jen and her brother were in high school together — who also contacted authorities, worried about the Harts’ adopted kids. After the Harts initially sold their home in Minnesota and relocated to Oregon, this same friend invited the whole family to stay with them. One night, on June 28, 2013, the woman, whose name is redacted in reports, had a pizza party for the kids. According to the Oregon CPS report, here’s what she told them happened that night and the next day:
“Jen gave each child a slice of pizza and some water. During the night ‘someone’ raided the fridge, and when the caller woke up, she simply made a comment to her husband, and said, ‘Steve, did you eat the pizza?’ At this point, Jen grabbed Sierra out of a dead sleep by the arm and said, ‘I can’t believe them!’ And took her to the bathroom. When they came back, Jen had all six kids lay on an inflated mattress with sleeping masks on their faces, and their arms by their sides, for five hours.”
After Argyropoulos and the second anonymous caller each filed reports of child endangerment, according to the Seattle Times, the Oregon child welfare workers sprang into action: “When a CPS worker and police attempted a surprise visit at the Hart family’s home in West Linn, Ore. on July 19, , they found two vehicles with Minnesota license plates in the driveway, but ‘no movement was observed in the home,’ and no one answered the door after several knocks.”
They’d shown up for their surprise visit at 10:30 a.m. The CPS worker left a card with a written request that the Harts contact the office. Two hours later, a police officer drove past the home. He observed that the Suburban was now gone. He called the CPS worker and asked if they’d heard from the Harts. They had not.
Three days later, Sarah Hart phoned and left a message, indicating she found the card. When the CPS worker phoned her back, Sarah answered and said they “must have just missed each other the other day.” She explained the family had gone out to the coast to pick berries.
A month later, on August 13, 2013, Sarah Hart left a message with CPS that the family was back in town and wanted to set up a meeting with the CPS worker. This time when the CPS workers arrived — on August 26 — they found the Hart family ready to receive them. From the official report of that visit:
“As we entered the home, all six children were observed sitting at the kitchen table, coloring. Ms. J. Hart introduced us to each child. We explained that we would like to meet with each person individually. Ms. S Hart and Ms. J Hart seemed hesitant to do this, and I explained this was the typical process and that due to large family, would help expedite our meeting. The couple agreed to allow Ms. [redacted] to begin interviewing the children, but wanted to meet with me together. […] While I interviewed Ms. J Hart and Ms. S Hart, CPS worker [redacted] interviewed each of the children individually.”
The CPS workers compiled assessments of each child based on interviews and observations. Here’s what they said about Devonte Hart:
“Devonte is a 10-year-old child and appeared to be the most outgoing and talkative child in the home. Devonte presented as very social and was the first child to introduce himself. He was also the first child to volunteer to be interviewed first.
Devonte was observed to be dressed in clean, well-fitted clothes and a fedora hat. He was noted to be quite small in size, however. He was evaluated medically by Dr. [redacted] who reported she did not have any medical concerns regarding his stature, despite not being on the growth chart.
Ms. J Hart reports Devonte is very active in the music festival community and is ‘famous’ across the nation for his ‘free hugs.’
The couple reported that they adopted Devonte when he was 6 years old at which time he only knew how to say ‘shit and fuck.’ Prior to being adopted, Devonte was reported to have suffered abuse in his biological parents’ home where he was exposed to violence, drugs and had a gun held to his head. At that time, the couple report he did not even know where his fingers and toes were. Additionally, he was reported to be very violent and would bite and kick.”
In the summation of their assessment of Devonte, the CPS workers noted, “He is reported by the parents to be thriving in home school and very interested in social justice/issues and love. He is reported and observed to be very affectionate.”
There’s no record in the CPS report of what Devonte said in his interview; instead, his abusers get to describe his world. To sweeten the picture, there’s the convenient detail of how Devonte was “famous” on the music festival circuit. The image of a white woman bouncing around music festivals for weeks at a time with her affectionate (and love-starved) black son offering “free hugs” to strangers is an image that on the surface Americans would love — an approximation of the post-racial world so many seem to want to live in. It’s the kind of wishful thinking that can apparently cloak even the most heinous acts.
We do, however, learn a little of what the other Hart children said when they were interviewed. It’s summarized in the report as: “All six children were interviewed and did not make disclosures of abuse or of food being withheld. The children provided nearly identical answers to all questions asked. All of the children, except Devonte, appeared very reserved and showed little emotion or animation.”
It’s hard not to wonder how the CPS workers wouldn’t find such robotic behavior to be a red flag of abuse. But they didn’t. It’s particularly damning when you consider what the anonymous caller reported to CPS, which is included in the report as well:
“Ms. [redacted] said the children would eat freely if Ms. J Hart was not around, but as soon as she came in, they would stop and deny they ate. She added that the children are not allowed to speak and could only raise their hands. They were disciplined for laughing at the dinner table. She noted Hannah and Markis are particularly disciplined. She recounted a time Markis did something at school and got in trouble. She stated this occured on his birthday and as punishment no one could tell him Happy Birthday.”
Yet the descriptions of Jen and Sarah Hart were sympathetic, if occasionally contradictory. Regarding the unemployed, music festival-attending Jen:
“Ms. J Hart is the primary caretaker for all six children. […] Ms. J Hart reports a background in education. […] Although the children came to them with reported diagnoses and on medication, Ms. J Hart does not believe all of this information was accurate and has seen great strides in the children. The children are not on medication and she does not believe they need it. […] Ms. J Hart believes in emphasizing and teaching love and compassion. She also believes in getting them involved in their communities especially the music festival community, and says the children have also participated in protests.”
And Sarah, a manager at a local Kohl’s:
“Ms. S Hart is the primary financial provider and the only adult working in the home. […] There is not much information regarding Ms. S Hart’s parenting of the children. She provides much of the same information regarding parenting beliefs as Ms. J Hart and their desire to raise the children in an alternative manner. She is often not around the children for weeks or months at a time, while Ms. J Hart and the children are traveling to festivals.”
Interestingly, though, the CPS workers — in the very next paragraph — include eyewitness reports that paint a much different picture:
“Ms. [redacted] believes Ms. S Hart goes along with whatever Ms. J Hart says, but added that Ms. S Hart is ‘cold’ to the children. She indicated that Ms. S Hart also likes to parade the children around and stage them for photographs, but does not provide attention or affection beyond this.”
One last detail from the CPS report, that gets only mentioned once, provides some insight into the married couple’s relationship. Of the two women whose names are redacted throughout the report, one of the women recounts her personal history with Jen Hart:
“Ms. [redacted] says Ms. J Hart had become obsessed with her, and at one point told her she wanted to leave Ms S Hart and be with her. She noted Ms. J Hart always makes up extravagant stories to make herself appear a hero. She indicated Ms. J Hart appeared delusional, but did not know of any mental health issues.”
A month after the home visit, the CPS worker contacted Argyropoulos and asked about “her knowledge of the family situation.” Meanwhile, CPS workers and Sarah Hart messaged back and forth in order to get the kids evaluated by their primary-care doctor. After three months, they finally did. Other than confirming some of the kids needed glasses, their overall health wasn’t considered to be at-risk. And two months after that — on the day after Christmas — a CPS worker contacted the Harts and told them the agency’s final disposition about their children endangerment case: “Unable to determine, which means there are some indications of child abuse or neglect, but there is insufficient data to conclude that the there is reasonable cause to believe that child abuse or neglect occurred.”
Just like that, Jen and Sarah Hart had gaslighted the system. Again. The two women had exhibited a clear pattern of abuse and neglect. Eyewitnesses familiar with the family said as much. One mother had been convicted of assault. But none of that mattered. The State of Oregon sided with Jen and Sarah Hart. The six undersized black kids being denied their prescribed medicines, not to mention food, love and attention, as they bounced around the country attending music festivals as props for Facebook photos, were determined to be safe. The last line of the Oregon CPS report pretty much says it all: “The children are completely dependent on their caregivers and do not have regular contact with any mandatory reporters, as they are homeschooled.”
It was in Oregon in 2014 — a year after CPS had intervened — that Devonte came to national attention when he hugged Portland Police Sgt. Bret Barnum at a Ferguson protest. That day was a rare time out of the house for Devonte and his siblings. The Hart family had come into town to protest the wrongful death of Michael Brown. On November 25, 2014, when that fateful viral picture was taken by freelance photographer Johnny Nguyen, then 12-year old Devonte Hart was holding a sign: “FREE HUGS!!” During the protest, Barnum spoke with Devonte and asked for one of his free hugs. In other words: It wasn’t Devonte’s idea to hug a cop. It was the officer’s idea.
Here’s how Jen Hart described the moment in a post on her Facebook page:
“He trembled holding a Free Hugs sign as he bravely stood alone in front of the police barricade. … After a while, one of the officers approached him and extended his hand. Their interaction was uncomfortable at first. … [Then] he asked Devonte why he was crying. His 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.”
For his part, Barnum told Oregon Live:
“I asked him his name. I asked, ‘Do you know what’s going on?’
He said, “A protest.”
I asked him if he knew why it’s going on. He said ‘Yes.’
I asked him if he thought it was good or bad. He didn’t say anything.
He kept crying, so I gave him a hug.
His mom was standing behind him and said, ‘Devonte just has a really big heart.’
At that point, I could tell this kid was special. He does have a huge heart. But I took a step back and walked down the sidewalk about 10 feet to give him a little space.”
Barnum later added how Devonte’s raw emotion “showed humanity, hope and positivity. I think, deep down, that’s how every human being wants it to be. That’s what people want to see. It’s a reflection of where we want to go. The photo shows there is humanity left — there is hope.”
When he was asked about his feelings after he heard the news about Devonte’s presumed death at the hands of his murderous adopted mother, Barnum told Inside Edition, “The tragic news about Devonte and his family deeply saddens me. The short interaction with Devonte reinforced my love, passion and duty in providing service to my community.”
Of course, not everyone saw that viral photo as a bright spot of hope. There were people who saw Devonte’s tears and empathized with his pain very differently. For instance, another photographer at that same protest, Intisar Abioto, who posts photos at The Black Portlanders, also took pictures of Barnum hugging Devonte as the black boy openly sobbed. But Abioto saw Devonte’s pain differently, and said, “That child is in trauma. And he is not the only one.” Similarly, Alex Reidlinger, a Portland-area artist, recalled the moment not as a spontaneous thing that just happened but rather as a cultivated bit of race-conscious theater: “Here are the images of Devonte I took. The first depicts him and his guardian just prior to him approaching the officer, in my mind she seems to be coaching him, though the picture does not imply this. The second [pic] was taken just before the hug, and you can see as a crowd and captive audience is starting to form.”
As for that second picture — and as a witness to the moment, including everything outside the frame — Reidlinger reminds us to consider what we, the viewer, can’t see:
“Every picture I’ve seen of this crops out the circus of photographers that surrounded these two creating a captive audience. With such a captive audience I can’t really say that the officer did anything that his superiors wouldn’t have told him to do. […] The way this image has been propagandized is highly disturbing to me because it distracts from the real issues. This has never been about the relationship between individual officers and young black men, but about the way in which our institutions and society protect cops, granting them license to use lethal force in ANY circumstance.”
Also, just like Abioto, Reidlinger — the only other black photographer at the protest that day — saw terror and trauma in Devonte’s eyes. “I would like to add that Devonte was crying before approaching the officer while he was talking to his guardian, presumably because he was terrified. This brings the question of coercion to my mind, but I’ll let ya’ll debate over it.“
After Devonte famously gave Sgt. Barnum a hug, his boundless affection turned into global (and viral) notoriety — the exact sort of attention, however, that the Harts labored to avoid. And so, in May 2017, they fled the Portland area and relocated to Washington State.
But just like in Portland, it didn’t take long for someone to report the Hart family to child protective services. This time, it was their new neighbors, the DeKalb family. In August, they’d grown concerned about the children after one of the Harts’ elder teen daughters, Hannah, jumped out of a second story window at 1:30 a.m. and ran to the DeKalbs’ house. She begged them to hide her. She told the neighbors her adoptive white mothers were racists and that they whipped her with belts. But when the mothers arrived at the DeKalbs’ home, the Harts convinced them that nothing was wrong and took Hannah back to their house.
A few months later, after the pattern of abuse continued, and after Mrs. DeKalb had told her father about the Hart kids, he called 911. He mentioned the August incident, but it was dismissed by authorities due to the four-month lapse. “If it was an emergency, why had the neighbors waited so long to call?” the authorities seemed to wonder.
In March, the DeKalbs decided to call Washington State Department of Social and Health Services. After Devonte began to regularly sneak out and come over to their place and beg for food, they felt the situation had grown increasingly dire. They were right. Devonte claimed his adoptive mothers regularly denied him food as punishment (as well as physically abused him), and that his mothers hid him and his siblings from the rest of the world. Mrs. DeKalb reported to DSHS that Devonte visited their home asking for food nine times between March 15 and March 23 alone.
An investigator drove out to the Hart house the same day — March 23 — the DeKalbs filed a child endangerment report. The CPS investigator reported seeing a vehicle in the driveway. They stopped and knocked on the door as part of a surprise visit. Just like in Oregon, no one answered the door.
Three days later, a sheriff’s deputy stopped by the house. Again, no one answered. The next morning, on March 27, a CPS investigator stopped by the house. By then, though, it was too late — Jen Hart had already driven the family off a cliff, two states away, down in California.
On March 26, an unnamed woman phoned 911. She said she was worried about Sarah Hart. The woman reported she’d received a worrisome text from Sarah at 3 a.m. the previous Saturday. The caller said Sarah had claimed to be sick “but no one’s been able to get ahold of her, talk to her or seen her since that text message, or her wife, which is Jen.” The woman also told the 911 dispatcher that Sarah “said she was unable to come out or go to work and thought she was going to have to go to the doctor. But I checked the hospital and they didn’t have a record of her. I think her phone is now dead.”
According to the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat, on the morning of March 24, when Sarah’s phone was likely still on and working, cell phone towers indicate that the Hart family passed through Newport, Oregon, at 8 a.m. Their 2003 GMC Yukon then traveled south toward California. Twelve hours later, a cell phone pinged towers again, this time in Leggett, a small town in Mendocino county, in Northern California.
The next day, at 8:05 a.m., Jen Hart was captured on a security camera at a grocery store in Fort Bragg, California. She was purchasing bananas. It was the last time anyone would see the Harts alive.
From what crash investigators have determined, Jen Hart was drunk when she drove her family into the ocean. Her blood alcohol level was .102, well over the legal limit for drivers in California.
The Yukon’s GPS data and onboard computer have been able to provide a lot of what happened during the Harts’ final moments. On March 25, they drove down the California coast. At around 9 p.m., somewhere near Westport, Jen pulled the family SUV over alongside that picturesque coastal highway. The vehicle came to a dead stop. After idling for a bit, Jen stomped on the gas pedal. The SUV accelerated forward for 70 feet. The speedometer was “pinned to 90 mph.” There were no signs of braking, no skid marks, no indications of any hesitation. The Yukon shot over the cliff’s edge. It then plummeted 100 feet and crashed against the rocks and water below.
Once the Hart family’s bodies were recovered, toxicology reports indicated that Sarah and at least two of the children had “significant amounts” of a chemical in their blood commonly found in Benadryl, which suggests they may have been drugged. Additionally, no one in the vehicle was wearing a seatbelt.
After a passerby spotted the car crash, Jen, Sarah and four of their six children were pulled from the Pacific. Devonte and Hannah’s bodies have yet to be found. Many crash investigators and rescue personnel believe they may never be recovered. Most likely, the Pacific has claimed their tiny bodies forever.
In some of the last official documents of the Hart children’s unfortunate lives, California investigators concluded that “a felony has been committed.” No fucking shit. Not only was a felony committed (i.e., murder), but a series of egregious errors and systemic neglect on the part of four separate states (i.e., Texas, Minnesota, Oregon and Washington) led to such a horrific outcome. This tragedy was preventable. Or better put, it could have been prevented if anyone gave a shit about the lives of these six lost black kids — children who were plucked from their families only to be killed by the two white women who had been entrusted (and paid) to protect them.
Michael Brown was killed by a gun, aimed by the murderous white imagination of Officer Darren Wilson. He killed the innocent teenager, and the state of Missouri aided and abetted his wrongful death. The courts excused Darren Wilson for murdering Michael Brown, but the outrage continued. Protests, too. In many ways, Ferguson changed the world.
Devonte Hart and his five siblings lost their lives to the murderous white imagination of Jen Hart. The states of Washington, Oregon, Minnesota and Texas aided and abetted their wrongful deaths. The courts and child protective services excused the clear and present pattern of abuse and neglect that all but guaranteed their demise. Will outrage follow? Honestly, probably not.
Why? Because their sad, strange deaths defy easy comprehension. They’re too weird, too mysterious, too shrouded in enigma for most people to get angry. But they should be. All of us should be furious and demand accountability. Just like Michael Brown, Devonte Hart was killed by our racist system. Officer Darren Wilson used a gun. Jen Hart used a 2003 GMC Yukon.
The result was the same: A murdered black child.
So yes, what Jen Hart did was more than a “felony.” It was a crime of monstrous inhumanity. It’s undeniable evidence of how little America cares for its black children. Devonte Hart’s life is a heartbreaking account of what happens to a little black boy who wanted to give the world “free hugs,” but could find no love in return.