By: KATIE KINDELAN, ABC News
(PORTLAND) — As protesters continue to clash with federal law enforcement agents in Portland, Oregon, a group of moms stepped up to help protect the protesters.
More than two dozen women created what they called a Wall of Moms over the weekend to create a barrier between protesters and federal officers, who are under fire for their use of force against people protesting police brutality after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis on Memorial Day.
The women, who wore face masks and helmets for safety, chanted, “Feds steer clear, moms are here,” as they linked arms to form the barrier, according to ABC News’ Kayna Whitworth, who is covering the protests in Portland.
“Many of them who were here last night tell me they were tear gassed by federal authorities – but they are back today – and they brought their friends,” Whitworth wrote on Instagram.
The Wall of Moms is the brainchild of Bev Barnum, a mom of two who organized a Facebook event calling on moms to meet at the protest site on Saturday evening.
“We moms are often underestimated. But we’re stronger than we’re given credit for,” Barnum, who could not be reached by ABC News, wrote on Facebook. “So what do you say, will you stand with me? Will you help me create a wall of moms?”
“Thank you so much for being brave. Thank you for being willing to help the protestors,” Barnum wrote on her post, which received more than 500 responses.
Barnum reflected on the success of the moms’ movement in a later post, writing alongside a photo of the moms at the protest, “When I asked moms to join me in protest on Friday night, while I was in my pj’s, getting ready for bed . . . I didn’t imagine that this would be my reality by Sunday morning.”
“In the span of 30hrs, women from all across the world have asked how they too can make this happen in their community,” she wrote. “You want to know the truth? You have to ask your friends to stand with you. You have to ask strangers to trust you enough to go into harms way. And you most especially have to trust that these women are going to show up until there isn’t a single protestor left to protect.”
Barnum and two other women also formed a Wall of Moms group on Facebook that now has nearly 3,000 members, including everyone from local moms interested in attending a protest to moms in states across the country asking how they can help.
“We got gassed last night and it did suck, but we’ve all been through childbirth, IEP meetings, and long barf-filled nights,” Maureen Kenny Mimiaga, one of Barnum’s co-founders, wrote on Facebook. “We got this.”
The federal agents deployed in Portland this week were part of a Department of Homeland Security task force established to respond to the growing protests and acts of civil disobedience that came after the death of Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police.
The state’s attorney general has launched a criminal investigation into two “unlawful” tactics allegedly made by federal agents.
Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum also announced she filed a federal civil lawsuit on Friday evening against the Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. Marshals Service and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection to begin the process for a restraining order to stop the agents “from unlawfully detaining Oregonians.”
ABC News’ Christina Carrega contributed to this report.
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