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Can you recall Ferguson hug photo that went viral? The one where the little sobbing Black boy is being consoled by the ever-loving Caucasian cop?

Well it’s all a complete sham. A pictorial poppycock. A fictitious documentation of colorlines being blurred to help out an embattled police force.

At least, that’s what Alex Riedlinger, a photographer who was on site when Johnny Huu Nguyen snapped the famous flick, is alleging.

Via Visionary Figures:

‘The cropping of an image is everything when it comes to its subjectivity and the way ideas are projected unto it.

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. They were there just as much for public relations as to keep the peace otherwise the dept. wouldn’t have sent every queer looking, POC and female cop on the force.

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. Whether they do use it or decide to demonstrate “love” is irrelevant.’

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.”

However, Portland police Sgt. Bret Barnum tells The Oregonian that he had no idea he was being photographed at the emotional moment.

The first question I asked him,” Barnum recalls, “was, ‘Why are you crying?'” After realizing it was due to the trying situations from the national Ferguson protests, he extended his warm embrace after seeing 12-year-old Devonte Hart’s “Free Hugs” sign.

“It was an opportunity that I couldn’t resist and couldn’t miss,” Barnum told The Oregonian, “and I just pointed down to his sign and said, ‘Hey, can I have one of those?'” Being a father of two teenage boys himself, he could obviously relate.

At this point, it’s anybody’s guess what’s the truth and what’s a falsehood. Check out the now controversial picture below.

Photo: Johnny Huu Nguyen/The Oregonian