A group of at least 30 mothers formed a human barrier between demonstrators supporting the Black Lives Matter movement and federal officers at protests in Portland on Saturday.
Videos shared on Twitter showed them chanting “Feds stay clear! Moms are here!” at a demonstration at a federal courthouse, according to Buzzfeed News.
That didn’t stop them: The moms, dubbed the “Wall of Moms,” returned for protests on Sunday.
In recent days, all eyes were on Portland after federal agents deployed by the Department of Homeland Security descended on the city. Viral videos showed the agents throwing protesters into unmarked vans while wearing camouflage fatigues.
Local leaders stridently criticized the move, with Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler calling it “an attack on our democracy.” On Friday, Oregon’s attorney general opened a criminal investigation over one protester’s injury, and filed a federal lawsuit accusing the agents of using unlawful tactics.
The organizer of the “Wall of Moms,” Bev Barnum, told Buzzfeed News she created the Facebook event that became the “Wall of Moms” after seeing video footage of the agents.
“We are about protecting peaceful citizens’ right to protest,” Barnum told Buzzfeed News.
On the Facebook event page, Barnum wrote: “Calling all moms. 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). And as of late, protestors are being stripped of their rights by being placed in unmarked cars by unidentifiable law enforcement.”
Barnum continued: “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?”
The event page told participants to prepare “for the worst possible outcome – violence” by instructing them to wear helmets if possible, and to write emergency numbers on their arms.
Though the federal agents did fire tear gas, Barnum told Buzzfeed News, “We know from the timeline that they showed restraint,” in reference to how protesters were dispersed at previous demonstrations.
“This is about Black moms every day losing their children, husbands, brothers, friends,” said Brenna Burnett, a Wall of Moms participant, to Buzzfeed News. “This is about Black Lives Matter. This is not about white women coming in to save the day.”
Mashable has reached out to Barnum for comment.