She was shot in the head by Trump’s stormtroopers in Portland, Oregon, this past weekend. She was a member of the “Wall of Moms.”
By Kristen Jessie-Uyanik
I want to preface this difficult post by saying that Black Lives Matter and that should remain at the center of every conversation right now about police brutality and the Feds involvement in Portland, OR.
I have attended several non-violent protests around Portland in support of BLM since late May. Last Sunday and again on Tuesday, I joined the Wall of Moms as they stood together in defense and support of protesters on the front line.
As a 41-year-old white woman with immense privilege and mother of 3 young children, I was inspired to use not only my voice, but also my body, to defend our First Amendment right to protest and send a clear message that Black lives are worth fighting for.
Last night (Saturday July 25), I joined the Wall of Moms once again to march from the Salmon Street Springs fountain to the Justice Center, where we lined up in rows up and down 3rd Avenue, about 10 feet from the fence that federal troops erected around the building. We chanted “Black Lives Matter” with other protesters and repeated the names of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Shai’India Harris (as well as countless others that filled my head and heart). Around 10:45 pm, we saw federal officers exit the Justice Center and line up on the other side of the fence. Some of the friends I was with decided to leave at that point, but I checked in with my buddy and two other friends and we decided to stay on.
I pulled out my phone at 10:52 pm and snapped a few pictures of the fence and the federal guards standing opposite me. I put my phone back in my pocket, pulled my safety goggles down from where they sat on my helmet to cover my eyes, inserted a pair of ear plugs, and locked arms with the women next to me. I remember some confetti had been launched on the far right side of us. I could hear a marching band playing in the intersection to our left. I didn’t notice anything in particular happening around me or in front of me in those moments. I was looking around, looking forward, and taking it in.
Just before 11 pm, I heard a BOOM and felt something hit my face.
I fell backwards into the other moms, who must have caught me because I don’t remember hitting the ground. I was pulled backwards and then picked up by someone who carried me through the crowd yelling “MEDIC! OUT OF THE WAY!” I never saw this person because there was blood gushing down my face, but I am forever grateful for them for swiftly and selflessly carrying me to safety. I was laid down in the back of a medic vehicle and a number of kind, brave, and caring medical professionals helped me. After they stopped the bleeding, they called an ambulance and transported me to a second vehicle on a gurney through a sea of tear gas. I covered my face and listened as medics and protesters yelled “MAKE WAY” to carry me through. The second medic vehicle was to take me to an ambulance that never arrived, so the driver offered to take me to the hospital himself. I am in awe of the care and compassion shown to me by these volunteer medics and protesters alike. I felt safe in their presence.
At the hospital, my CAT scan showed no brain damage or skull injury, but it did reveal a “foreign substance” all over my forehead and even in one of my eyes. The doctors couldn’t see it, but they pointed out the appearance of tiny fragments that had pierced my skin, like gravel but there was no gravel to recover. I received 7 stitches, some pain medication, and sent home, with advice to follow up with an eye doctor. One nurse also advised me to file a police report.
I am lucky to be surrounded by family, friends, and neighbors who want to help and care for me. I will ask for help if needed, I promise.
If you really want to help, I would ask that you find ways to participate in or support the BLM movement. Donate to volunteer medical services, or organizations supporting protesters. Sign petitions, speak out. Support Black-owned businesses and support Black moms and dads, who have been part of the Wall of Moms for generations and continue to fight.
And VOTE. Vote like you could get shot in the face for stepping out and speaking up.