Portland’s Wall of Mom founder branded ‘anti-black’ after offering to help more than just BLM protesters

Portland’s Wall of Mom founder branded ‘anti-black’ after offering to help more than just BLM protesters

The Mexican-American founder of the Wall of Moms movement in Portland was accused of treason and ‘anti-blackness’ by BLM activists after saying the movement should protect non-black protesters too.

The movement started in Portland earlier this month in an attempt to discourage federal law enforcement from using heavy-handed tactics against ongoing Black Lives Matter protests in the city. It enjoyed a rapid growth, with similar groups popping up in other cities, and has drawn national media attention. However, the Wall of Moms now seems to be crumbling, due to internal divisions.

Last Friday, leadership positions in Wall of Moms were offered to several local black activists, including Teressa Raiford, executive director of the black-led Don’t Shoot Portland organization. The two groups were allies and together filed a lawsuit accusing the federal government of using excessive force against the protesters in the city.

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On Wednesday, Don’t Shoot Portland announced it was no longer supporting Wall of Moms, accusing them of “leaving vulnerable Black women downtown after marching, failing to support those on the ground that put trust in them,” and embracing “anti-blackness.”

The core of the problem seems to be a move by Bev Barnum, the Mexican-American founder of Wall of Moms, to register it as a non-profit. Her vision is for the group to go national and use its violence-deterring approach on behalf of other protesters facing crackdowns by authorities.

The group’s Twitter account was apparently hijacked by internal “resistance,” who accused Barnum of going “rogue” and steering the group in the wrong direction after capitalizing on support from Don’t Shoot Portland and Raiford.

“THIS IS ANOTHER EXAMPLE OF SOMETHING BUILT ON THE PREMISE OF HELPING BLACK PEOPLE, legitimized by Black people, TAKEN FROM BLACK PEOPLE,” the account declared.

Barnum, commenting on the developments on a private Facebook page, said she regretted if the registration hurt somebody, but she insisted that “WOM is a group that supports BLM, not a BLM group.”

“If that is not good enough for you, please feel free to leave this group. And if you currently volunteer your time, please feel free to leave your positions,” she said.

An apparent rival Facebook group called “Moms United For Black Lives” has been launched amid the conflict, attracting over 6,000 subscribers in several hours.

On Thursday night, Wall of Moms activists wearing yellow T-shirts seemed to be back at the protest rally in downtown Portland. What effect the apparent split in the organization will have in the long run remains unclear.

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