Story at a glance

  • White mothers have sought to protect the Black mothers and women protesting for Black lives by creating a human wall between them and law enforcement.
  • One of the women on the “Wall of Moms” in Portland, Ore., was shot in the face and injured this weekend.
  • It’s unclear what law enforcement agency, if any, is responsible for her injury.

Kristen Jessie-Uyanik was protected when she joined the Wall of Moms facing off against federal agents in Portland. She had a helmet, safety goggles and a pair of earplugs in — not to mention her face mask, with the abbreviation for Black Lives Matter written across it. So when she was shot in the face by a foreign object, she was prepared. 

In a Facebook post, 41-year-old Jessie-Uyanik said she received stitches and pain medication for the scar just above the corner of her eye and was told to follow up with an eye doctor and a police report. But it was the police on Saturday night that deployed tear gas and pepper spray to disperse crowds of protestors who were largely peaceful until Portland police declared it a "riot" and told protestors to leave. 


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Jessie-Uyanik has attended several nonviolent protests since last May, when the police killing of George Floyd set off a chain reaction in cities across the United States.

"As a 41 year old white woman with immense privilege and mother of 3 young children, I was inspired to use not only my voice, but also my body, to defend our First Amendment right to protest and send a clear message that Black lives are worth fighting for," she said in the post, which she prefaced with the request that the Black Lives Matter movement remain the center of conversation. 

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The "Wall of Moms" have also inspired a "Wall of Vets," using their bodies and privilege to shield other, often Black, protesters. 


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Black women and mothers have been on the frontlines of the Black Lives Movement since its inception, but they face an elevated risk of violence at the hands of law enforcement.

“What it does show us is that Black lives don’t matter here, white moms do,” Teressa Raiford, a Black mother who is the executive director of Don’t Shoot Portland, told the New York Times. “And those moms know that, too. That’s why they’re standing in solidarity with us.”

Portland has become ground zero for a battle between local and federal law enforcement seeking to wrest control in response to largely peaceful demonstrations. Tensions have escalated in the last week, with federal officers reporting being hit by water bottles and garbage. In response, agents have released tear gas canisters and pepper spray, with confusion and disagreement on which departments are responsible.  


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Published on Jul 27, 2020