Wall of Moms

I’ll start at the beginning – The CAll to ACTION!

July 17th around 9:30pm I was getting ready for bed. In typical fashion I reached for my phone to do the late night social media scroll. The scrolling usually lasts about half an hour – most nights I burst out in laughter or hand my husband the phone so that we can both admire our lovely family and friends. 

July 17th would change that. Since that evening I have not scrolled social media with a light heart. In fact, I’m afraid of googling myself – don’t worry, we’ll get to the ins and outs as to why. 

July 17th 9:45pm I come across a video of a protestor just a few miles away from my doorstep. He is being apprehended by federal officers – they place him in a “mom van.” Unmarked law enforcement, in an unmarked van- talk about a recipe for disaster. 

July 17th 9:50pm I ask my husband to watch the video with me – he does and he states that Donald Trump sent DHS law enforcement to put a stop to Portland Protest. At this point I take my phone back and head to twitter, instagram, google… I see the videos of protestors being showered in tear gas, and shot with bean bag rounds and rubber bullets. 

July 17th 10:00pm I take a deep breath, hold back my tears and think about how I can help change this horrific reality. It dawns on me while I may not know many people in Portland, as I have moved here from Maui, I belong to a moms group – a group comprised of hard working moms that in my eyes, might just be the ones to help. In a few minutes I draft a post stating that I had never protested and I wasn’t even sure how, but I knew that something had to be done and that we mothers might just be the ones to do it. 

July 18th 9:00pm we moms march, arm in arm to the Portland Justice Center. We wore our whitest whites to make sure the feds saw us and could not ever say that we were throwing bricks, water bottles or anything else. I wanted to make sure that no one could lie about us. We needed to be highly visible and non-violent to prove that the federal officers were indeed the real rioters at the protests. 

July 18th 10:45pm I look down at my watch because the federal officers are right in front of us moms. They are doing hand signals and somehow I know that we’re about to face a terrible truth – and that’s we’re about to experience federal officers’ violence first hand. We do. We have flash bangs at our feet, and soon after tear gas, and after that everything goes blank for a bit – I can’t hear or see anything for what seems like an eternity. It feels like a scene in a movie where the world stops and you know that you should run away, but you can’t because you’re peeing your pants and vomiting all over yourself. 

I’ve re-written these words for a few days. This time I’m keeping them. I won’t delete them to shield you or me from this reality. I want to tell you that this was an isolated experience, but that would be a lie. Wall of Moms experienced this for nearly two weeks until the feds withdrew. Moms were injured, relationships were strained. Dads and then Veterans came out to protect the moms.

Wall of Moms got national and international attention. Moms from all over the world wanted to start their own walls to protect their own communities from police brutality and or stand up for Black Lives Matter. It is in our nature to protect. With social media it is easy to organize. Wall of Moms became an international phenomenon in less than one month. We became part of a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Justice for violating our constitutional rights after the military-style squads that were dispatched in Portland were violent against us.

The nightmares haven’t ceased. My name is now marred in controversy. And yet, I’m still here, trying in earnest to forget and forgive and am proud of a movement I started with a simple call to action.

Image Credit: Bev Barnum

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Bev Barnum is a thirty five year old, Mexican-American, mother of two and former Maui mama who is ready to help shape a more just and equitable world.

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