As a result of "war-like" conditions in Portland, moms used their privilege for good by forming a human shield. They were later attacked with tear gas.
The city of Portland, Oregon, has been rife with protests and unrests ever since United States President Donald Trump signed an executive order to patrol cities in the wake of ongoing demonstrations. Those dissenting have been shot at, assaulted with tear gas, and harassed. More recently, it was reported that some protesters were being removed from the streets in unmarked vehicles. Moms in the area have had enough. Taking to the streets last weekend, they formed a human shield to protect demonstrators. They stood arm-in-arm in front of the Justice Center, the Portland's federal courthouse, to save individuals from tear gas, shootings, and arrests, Yahoo! News reports.
The fence around the northern park has been dismantled and folks, I’m standing in the park.— Lindsey Smith (she/her) (@LindseyPSmith7) July 19, 2020
If you’re ~new~ here, touching fences has resulted in tear gas, shooting, arrests, and more from police, both federal and local, over the past month and a half. pic.twitter.com/0SxM3Eri8A
Preschool teacher Lindsey Smith shared regular updates of the goings-on at the protests Sunday night. She claimed in a tweet, "Touching fences has resulted in tear gas, shooting, arrests, and more from police, both federal and local, over the past month and a half." In a follow-up tweet, she posted a video of mothers linking arms to form a human shield in front of the courthouse where fences were put up to "protect" the building from protesters. She wrote in part, "The moms are chanting, ‘Feds stay clear! Moms are here!’ at the federal courthouse. All three fences are still up."
The moms are facing the federal courthouse, and the crowd is behind them. The Justice Center, which PPB (and sometimes MCSO) attack from, is also behind them. pic.twitter.com/09nsskEqAh— Lindsey Smith (she/her) (@LindseyPSmith7) July 19, 2020
Eventually, the fences came down. "The southern park’s fence is down," Smith explained in another tweet. "I can’t stress how dangerous it usually is to mess with the fences. No police out yet, though. It’s mostly black bloc people dismantling the fences and mostly an older crowd chanting in the streets. [About] 450 people in total." The mothers' human shield, no doubt, had an impact on the fact that demonstrators were able to dismantle the fences safely. The act was both a display in solidarity as well as an important way of the women using their white privilege for good. During protests, white folks—especially white cis women—are least likely to be harmed by police forces.
I’m just standing here in a gas mask thinking, “Are they gonna attack these moms?” as antifa teens scamper around me with pieces of fence.— Lindsey Smith (she/her) (@LindseyPSmith7) July 19, 2020
The moms are chanting, “Leave our kids alone!” pic.twitter.com/uAoYkzzorV
The human shield was a particularly imperative way of fighting back against President Trump's neo-fascist executive order. Julie Scagell writing for Yahoo! News explained, "Trump may be using Portland as a test case for how far his 'law and order' sentiments can go after protesters occupied the area around the Justice Center." Reportedly, the incidents taking place in the city right now are the closest one can get to "actual war without live rounds," journalist Robert Evans described in an interview with The New York Times. "It’s really hard for me to see how things go much further without people dying," he shared. "Since the feds got involved with police it’s gotten really brutal. I’d argue we’ve seen more police brutality in the last 50 days from Portland Police Department than anywhere else in the country."
Here’s the mom bloc.— Lindsey Smith (she/her) (@LindseyPSmith7) July 19, 2020
Someone is banging on the courthouse with a hammer, which has resulted in violent arrest and tear gas in the past. pic.twitter.com/sLxPT5qwhG
Thankfully, an investigation has been called, prompted by the stories of unmarked vans pulling people off the streets at random. Senator Chuck Schumer and Oregon Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden have requested a formal federal investigation. Senator Merkley affirmed in a tweet, "Authoritarian governments, not democratic republics, send unmarked authorities after protesters. These Trump/Barr tactics designed to eliminate any accountability are absolutely unacceptable in America, and must end."