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Moms Form Human Wall To Protect Portland Protesters From Federal Agents

Although you may have noticed that the level of protest activity in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement against systemic racism and police brutality depends on where you live, it's no secret that they're continuing as persistently as ever in Portland, Oregon.

According to the New York Times, these protests that have taken place for 50 consecutive days were reignited after federal agents appeared in the city without identifying themselves and began detaining protesters.

In response, protesters have taken to Portland's streets in the hundreds and remained standing against what they and some local authorities consider a serious overreach by the federal government.

And as we've seen in previous protests, it seems they have some unlikely allies in this fight.

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Although these agents reportedly didn't identify themselves at the scene, it has since been revealed that they're composed of U.S. Marshals, Federal Protective Service, U.S. Customs and Border Protection and Homeland Security Investigations personnel.

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As KGW8 reported, the official reason for their presence is to protect federal property and calm unrest during the protests.

Footage of these protests, however, has shown these agents detaining protesters in unmarked vans and dispersing them with tear gas and projectiles.

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As The New York Times reported, a criminal investigation has been launched after a protester was seriously injured by a "less-lethal" round that struck him in the head.

Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum has also filed a lawsuit accusing federal agents of unlawful tactics, which was largely influenced by their documented practice of detaining protesters in unmarked vans.

It's worth noting that neither Governor Kate Brown nor Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler requested the presence of these agents. The former stated her belief that protests were dying down before they showed up.

But local officials weren't the only ones with a strong reaction to footage of these detentions.

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As she told Buzzfeed News, 35-year-old content marketer Bev Barnum was inspired by such acts to create a Facebook event calling for a "wall of moms" to stand in front of protesters and protect them from federal agents.

As she wrote, "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."

Those who responded coordinated with a nonprofit called Don’t Shoot PDX to participate in a vigil for 18-year-old Shai’India Harris, who was shot and killed earlier this month.

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On the night of July 18, they joined a protest at Mark O. Hatfield US Courthouse. They had planned to dress in a non-threatening manner, which they hoped would help protect protesters.

As Barnum said, "We wanted to look like we were going to Target, like normal people."

They were nonetheless tear-gassed by federal officers who dispersed protesters with the chemical, as well as batons and flash-bangs at 10:45 pm.

Regardless, the group pledges to continue their participation "until no protester needs protecting."

As one of the moms involved, 29-year-old Brenna Burnett said, "This is about Black moms every day losing their children, husbands, brothers, friends. This is about Black Lives Matter. This is not about white women coming in to save the day."

h/t: The New York Times, Buzzfeed News

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