Who Are the Portland Moms Against Police Brutality?

A group of moms has shielded protesters from federal authorities in Portland, Oregon, with nightly demonstrations against police brutality entering their eighth week.

Bev Barnum called for mothers to join her in protecting protesters Saturday night after seeing reports unidentified federal agents were grabbing people and hauling them away in unmarked vans.

Portland has been the site of more than 50 straight nights of demonstrations since the killing of George Floyd, a Black man, in Minneapolis police custody on May 25. The unrest prompted the Trump administration to enlist federal agents from a number of agencies to protect federal property in the city.

But reports that agents were driving around in unmarked vans and grabbing protesters who weren't near federal property without identifying themselves has sparked an outcry.

Barnum took to Facebook and made an event called "Wall of Moms," urging other mothers to join her and "do what we do best" by protecting protesters.

"As most of you have read and seen on the news, protesters are being hurt (without cause). And as of late, protesters are being stripped of their rights by being placed in unmarked cars by unidentifiable law enforcement."

She added: "We moms are often underestimated. 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?"

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

Dozens of other moms heeded her call. The group, dressed in white and wearing bike helmets, formed a human barricade by linking arms during a protest outside the federal courthouse.

Julia Peattie, who also took part in Saturday night's Wall of Moms protest, shared a clip on Twitter of the group chanting: "Feds stay clear! Moms are here!"

"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," she wrote alongside the video.

Barnum, who is Mexican American, wrote on Facebook that the group of moms had dressed in white so as not to appear threatening, but they were still teargassed by federal authorities.

"We tried in earnest to give the kids a break by shifting the pervasive narrative that protesters are rioters," she wrote.

"Case [in] point, we wore our whitest whites to show that we weren't there to make trouble, we showed up to prove that the feds are the violent ones at protest. And we were right. Kids took down fences and did some skateboarding, two or three kids were banging on walls, but over 100 people were peaceful."

She added: "To be clear, we moms weren't armed, throwing rocks, throwing water...THAT DIDN'T HAPPEN. We were gassed for chanting "Leave The Kids Alone."

"I want you to think about what's happening in this country and ask yourself how you're going to help change it."

The #wallofmoms is at the frontline and they’ve put sunflowers through the fence. SUNFLOWERS, y’all. They’re fearlessly wielding flowers. #PortlandProtest pic.twitter.com/CUXjpZd8Fv

— Deborah Bloom (@deborahebloom) July 20, 2020

Moms Against Police Brutality have arrived at the (In)Justice Center in downtown Portland and are chanting “No justice no peace!” #PDXprotests #PortlandProtest #BlackLivesMatter pic.twitter.com/USv8NsrahZ

— Jules Boykoff (@JulesBoykoff) July 20, 2020

She told BuzzFeed News the mothers had stood outside the courthouse for several hours until federal agents dispersed the crowd using tear gas, batons and flash bangs at around 10.45 p.m.

Barnum said she and her group left shortly afterward and none of them were arrested. However, some needed medical treatment.

On Sunday, a larger group of moms joined protests in downtown Portland—this time wearing yellow. They pushed sunflowers into fences around the federal courthouse and chanted "no justice, no peace," according to videos and pictures posted on social media.

The group was again teargassed by federal authorities, according to posts on social media and Portland police.

"This is what happened a couple minutes ago. Gas spread out over several blocks," KOIN news reporter Hannah Ray Lambert wrote on Twitter. "Was very difficult to escape. A couple ladies from the mom group gave me a baby wipe to help my eyes."

Protesters were dispersed by federal authorities using CS gas on at least two occasions overnight, Portland Police said in a statement.

Nevertheless, Barnum said and the moms would continue to "show up until there isn't a single protester left to protect."

Barnum has been contacted for additional comment.

A person walks past graffiti covering the walls of the U.S. Courthouse in Portland, Oregon, on July 17, 2020. Mason Trinca/Getty Images