Portland, OR – Rioters in Portland hid behind a “Wall of Moms” who vowed to protect them from federal officers by using their “mombods” as shields over the weekend.
“Moms are here! Feds stay clear!” the group of approximately 70 mothers chanted during a gathering outside the federal courthouse in downtown Portland on Sunday, video footage showed.
One of the moms, who refused to provide her last name for fear of retaliation, said she joined the Wall of Moms movement because she wanted to protect rioters from federal officers, CNN reported.
“I became concerned for the young people getting teargassed and flash-banged by police,” Rebecca told the news outlet. “It’s like a war zone down there.”
The group is the brainchild of 35-year-old Bev Barnum, who came up with the idea of using a group of mothers to shield rioters after she watched videos on social media showing federal officers detaining people, CNN reported.
“It didn’t take long for me to find a massive array of video displaying obvious human rights violations,” Barnum claimed.
A crowd of about 400 has now occupied both SW 3rd and SW Main.
The moms are chanting, “Feds stay clear! Moms are here!” at the federal courthouse.
All three fences are still up. pic.twitter.com/jhJ09NUxGW
— Lindsey Smith (she/her) (@LindseyPSmith7) July 19, 2020
The mother-of-two took to Facebook and began recruiting other mothers to support her cause, CNN reported.
“I needed to do more so I asked the Portland working moms’ group to protest with me – to shield the protesters from harm with our ‘mombods,'” Barnum told the news outlet.
“Calling all moms,” she wrote on her newly-established Wall of Moms event page. “Let’s do what we do best- protect people.”
“As most of you have read and seen on the news, protestors are being hurt (without cause),” Barnum wrote. “And as of late, protestors are being stripped of their rights by being placed in unmarked cars by unidentifiable law enforcement.
“We moms are often underestimated. But we’re stronger than we’re given credit for,” she declared. “So what do you say, will you stand with me? Will you help me create a wall of moms?”
Last night after getting gassed and shot at by the feds, I swore I wasn’t going back to protest again — but when I heard about a gathering called Wall of Moms, I couldn’t stay home. #fedsout #blacklivesmatter #wallofmoms pic.twitter.com/m30aGQAthZ
— Julia Peattie (@repeattie) July 19, 2020
Barnum admitted in a Facebook post on July 17 that she was “afraid of protesting,” but said that Portland’s mothers needed to help the rioters.
“Deep in my soul I feel the need to give the kids a break- before they break,” she said of the mobs that have been setting fires and attacking law enforcement officers throughout the city.
“As soon as you become a mom, something is triggered in you. It’s primal. It doesn’t matter if it’s your kid or not, you’re going to help them,” Barnum told ABC News.
— pdx law grrrl (@pdxlawgrrrl) July 20, 2020
As many as 70 Wall of Moms members locked arms outside the federal courthouse over the weekend and formed a line in front of the demonstrators grouped behind them, CNN reported.
“Leave our kids alone!” they chanted at times, according to BuzzFeed News.
Barnum said that by wearing white and trying to portray a nonthreatening appearance on Saturday, the group hoped the officers would be less likely to use force against them.
— CBS News (@CBSNews) July 20, 2020
She noted that although she is Mexican American, she thought that the “privilege” of being “white-appearing” might reduce the likelihood of them being targeted, BuzzFeed News reported.
“We wanted to look like we were going to Target, like normal people,” she told BuzzFeed News.
She claimed the tactic worked.
“They showed restraint,” Barnum said of the officers. “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.’”
The Wall of Moms showed up again Sunday night, this time dressed in yellow, videos showed.
Rioters tore down the newly-erected fencing surrounding the now-dismantled Chinook Land Autonomous Territory (CLAT) in Lownsdale Square Park and used it to barricade the doors of the Multnomah County Justice Center and the federal courthouse on multiple occasions over the weekend, the Portland Police Bureau said in a series of press releases.
“The Feds came out of the building, they walked slowly, assembled themselves and started shooting [teargas],” Barnum told CNN. “I couldn’t believe it was happening. Traumatic doesn’t even begin to describe it.”
The mob later toppled another fence, at which point federal officers allegedly deployed teargas again, she said.
The Wall of Moms dispersed after that, BuzzFeed News reported.
Feds are out. They shoved the moms. Lots of tear gas and flash bangs. pic.twitter.com/gPsP6ZZnlo
— Lindsey Smith (she/her) (@LindseyPSmith7) July 19, 2020
“I want to tell you that I didn’t vomit or pee my pants after being gassed, but I did,” Barnum wrote in a Facebook post on Sunday. “I guess I lost control of my bodily fluids and soon after I couldn’t open my eyes.”
She said that her group wasn’t armed or throwing anything at officers.
“We were gassed for chanting ‘Leave The Kids Alone,’” she claimed.
Barnum said she has since met up with members of Portland Don’t Shoot, who provided her and her fellow Wall of Moms participants with tips to protect themselves during demonstrations, ABC News reported.
“Getting shot and gassed and vomiting all over myself and not being able to see, something clicked in my brain and I was like how could we collectively as mothers let our kids do this?” she said. “I got home and showered and I told my husband we were going out the next night.”
None of the members of the moms’ group were arrested over the weekend, according to Barnum.
She said that over 2,000 mothers have expressed an interest in participating in the next Wall of Moms event, CNN reported.
“We’ll stop when there is no protester that needs our protection,” she told CNN. “We get thanks every which way. But we’re not doing it for the thanks. We’re doing it to protect human rights.”
According to the PPB, officers were attacked with paint-filled balloons, commercial grade fireworks, rocks, full bottles, and other various objects throughout the weekend.
Rioters ignited blazes throughout the city and stormed a federal courthouse armed with hockey sticks, bats, umbrellas, and shields after toppling a perimeter fence, police said.
On Saturday night, a mob broke into the front doors of the Portland Police Association building at North Campbell Avenue and “ignited a fire inside,” according to the BBP.
Rioters shoved dumpsters against at least one set of doors to the building, barricading it from the outside, and set them on fire as well.