In Portland, Oregon, where anti-racism protests have sometimes turned violent, a furry llama stands out from the crowd to bless demonstrators and law enforcement with soothing hugs.
Caesar, the six-year-old "No Drama Llama," has become a fixture in the city, extending his wooly neck to nuzzle both Black Lives Matter activists and law enforcement officers in body armor lining up to take selfies with him.
The former Argentine grand champion show animal, standing 5 feet 8 inches at about 350 lbs, is unusually friendly for a llama, making him a natural peacemaker, said his owner, Larry McCool, who runs the Mystic Llama Farm in Jefferson, Oregon.
Caesar may not speak, but knows more than you think, McCool said. This was clear on June 9 when about 5,000 people laid down or knelt at bridge near downtown Portland for nearly nine minutes of silence to honor George Floyd, a Black man who died on May 25 after a white police officer knelt on his neck.
"Caesar stood there, motionless, just like this. He understood the moment. He understood the importance of what we were doing," McCool said. "(He) did not move an inch that whole time."
Caesar guides everyone to a higher path by showing up at various social justice rallies, McCool said, as the therapy llama posed for photos near a memorial to African-Americans harmed by police violence."As intense as the public is, the protesters and the federal agents and the marshals, ... he actually can defuse that very much. That's his whole purpose."