When A 5-Year-Old Walked Into A Police Station Holding This Sign, The Officers Broke Down In Tears

Screaming sirens, angry mobs and the rumble of helicopters overhead. It might sound like a scene in a distant, war-torn country, but we’re talking about Charlotte, North Carolina, when protests shook the city in 2016. While Governor Pat McCrory announced a state of emergency and called on the National Guard for help, one small boy took matters into his own hands.

Jayden Hooker might look like a regular five year old, but according to his mom Deanna he’s an “old soul”. He lives with his parents and sister in Charlotte, just a few blocks from where the protests took place. On September 20, 2016, he heard noise outside his bedroom window. Frightened, he got out of bed.

When he called for his parents, Deanna tried to explain what was happening. It must have been hard to tell a child. The troubles started after local police shot Keith Lamont Scott – just a few miles away from the Hooker family home.

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The shooting happened while local police were searching for someone with an outstanding warrant at Scott’s apartment building. According to officers, Scott exited a vehicle with a handgun and refused to follow their orders. Scott’s wife, who was a witness to the incident, did not agree with that version of events, however. However it happened, nobody disputes what then happened. Officer Brentley Vinson shot Scott dead.

Although both the victim and the officer were African-American, the shooting increased racial tensions. Scott was the third black man to be shot dead by U.S. police that week. Protesters began to assemble within a few hours, chanting “No justice, no peace,” and carrying signs bearing slogans such as, “Black Lives Matter,” “Stop Killing Us.” Despite a peaceful start, the protests became violent.

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Indeed, some protesters started throwing water bottles and rocks at the police, who retaliated by deploying tear gas. During the first night of protests two police vehicles were damaged, one person was arrested and three staff from local news agency WBTV were attacked. An officer was also injured by a rock.

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The second night of protests was worse, however. After assembling peacefully at Marshall Park, the crowd became violent by around 8:30 p.m. Throughout the night they set fires, smashed windows and looted stores. One young man was shot and later died.

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Things calmed down by about 3:00 a.m., but the damage was done. After police used tear gas and rubber bullets to scatter the crowd, the final tally was nine protesters injured, 44 people arrested and five police officers in need of medical treatment.

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Living in downtown Charlotte during the protests was obviously frightening and unsettling, especially for young families such as the Hookers. After his mom calmed him down, Jayden went back to bed. He didn’t stop thinking about what was going on outside, however.

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The next day, Jayden asked his mom some more questions. While the news was on in the background, he heard the anchor mention that some police officers were injured during the violence. Upset, he asked if he could skip school. He wanted to pay a visit to the police station. Jayden remembered how frightened he had felt during the protest and thought about how the cops who were on the scene must have felt.

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He wanted to hug them and bring them some doughnuts. He told his mom he wanted to do this so that “they’re not so scared.” His mom said no, but Jayden didn’t give up. Eventually his parents decided that if he really wanted to, he could visit the local cops — but only after school. As Deanna subsequently explained to CBS news, “It kind of opened our eyes and we eventually said yes because it’s a beautiful thing.”

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When he finished school for the day, Jayden was excited to visit the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department. He picked up some boxes of glazed doughnuts to bring with him and made a special sign which he hung around his neck. It said, “free hugs.”

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When his mom’s car pulled into the car park of the University City division of Charlotte-Mecklenburg PD, Jayden was ready for action. He proudly walked into the station with his doughnuts and his sign. Some of the local officers were actually moved to tears by his gesture.

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The cops weren’t the only ones touched by his kind actions. Jayden’s mom was moved to tears, too. She told CBS, “I’m so proud of my son. I think it honestly shows you that a five-year-old can teach us a lot about how we should treat each other during times like these.”

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She said that her brave little boy had been raised to understand that if someone hits you, you shouldn’t hit back. In her words, “hate doesn’t do anything but spread the hate; it’s [Jayden’s] mission to spread love and positivity.”

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As well as offering doughnuts and hugs to the police officers, Jayden also had some touching words of comfort to share. He said, “I’m happy the police officers didn’t get really hurt. I want you to stay safe and I don’t want anybody to hurt you.”

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Deanna was so impressed by her son’s generous attitude that she shared the story of her little boy’s actions on the Facebook page Love What Matters. It soon went viral. As of February 2017 the post has attracted more than 14,500 likes and has been shared more than 2,000 times.

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The story even caught the attention of Ken Nwadike Jr., the guy behind the Free Hugs Project. Jayden had seen his videos and was inspired by them – and when Nwadike saw Jayden’s story he was inspired too. He caught a flight and came to visit Jayden.

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Jayden was starstruck when he arrived at church on Sunday and saw Nwadike waiting for him. After covering his mouth in shock, he went in for a hug. Afterwards, he said, “it was a dream come true to meet Ken,” and “he’s kind of my hero.”

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After giving so many free hugs, doughnuts, and words of appreciation to the cops, Jayden definitely deserved a nice surprise of his own. As his mom said, “this is love in its purest form and what our world needs right now.” She also summed up what pretty much everyone’s thinking, adding, “He’s a very cool kid.”

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