Portland moms form human barrier to protect protesters from federal officers

At least 30 mothers on Saturday gathered in Portland, Ore., to form a barrier between federal agents who have descended on the city and protesters.

The women stood as part of a crowd of approximately 400 people at the federal courthouse in the city for hours, chanting “Feds stay clear! Moms are here!” before federal agents fired tear gas and flash bangs into the crowd, according to BuzzFeed News.

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“We are about protecting peaceful citizens’ right to protest,” Bev Barnum, a 35-year-old content marketer who organized the “Wall of Moms” demonstration, told the news outlet.

Barnum told BuzzFeed she was inspired to organize the protest by viral footage of unidentified federal officers pulling a Portland resident into an unmarked vehicle.

"We moms are often underestimated," Barnum wrote in a Facebook event post she created. "But we’re stronger than we’re given credit for. So what do you say, will you stand with me? Will you help me create a wall of moms?"

She told BuzzFeed she believed the attendees’ appearance would make federal forces reluctant to use heavy-handed tactics against them and other demonstrators. “We wanted to look like we were going to Target, like normal people,” Barnum said.

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Barnum added that despite the eventual use of tear gas, the officers showed more restraint than they had toward protesters on other nights.

“We could tell by their body language. There were two federal officers in front of us that seemed to say, ‘We don’t want to shoot y’all,’” she said.

"This is about Black moms every day losing their children, husbands, brothers, friends," Brenna Burnett, a 29-year-old business owner who also participated in the Wall of Moms, told BuzzFeed News. "This is about Black Lives Matter. This is not about white women coming in to save the day.”

Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler (D) and Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum (D) have both pushed back against the deployment of federal forces to the city, with Wheeler saying their presence is exacerbating unrest and Rosenblum suing several federal agencies present, accusing them of illegal detentions of citizens without probable cause.