One of the Portland Wall of Moms, a group of local mothers dedicated to lining up at the front of protests for Black Lives and against the presence of federal agents in their city, says she was hit in the face by a projectile while on the line, resulting in a harrowing trip to the hospital.
Kristen Jessie-Uyanik described her ordeal in a Facebook post, starting with a caveat that the protests in Portland should be the center of all conversations about the protests.
“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,” she wrote.
This was not Jessie-Uyanik’s first protest or first appearance in the Wall of Moms, but she wanted to put her experience on Saturday on record after she had to have stitches for the head wound she received. Everything was fine and she could see no signs of violence until she was hit.
“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.”
It’s unclear what it was that hit Jessie-Uyanik or whether it came from federal agents or Portland police, though she would not be the first protester to be hit in the face and have to be rushed to the hospital because a fed fired upon them at short range. Thankfully, her fellow moms and other protesters were there for her.
“I fell backwards into the other moms, who must have caught me because I don’t remember hitting the ground,” she wrote. A mystery hero called for a medic and carried her out of harm’s 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.”
Volunteer medics, who have become a common sight at 2020 Black Lives Matter protests, stopped the bleeding and when an ambulance wouldn’t come, transported the mom to the hospital themselves.
“I am in awe of the care and compassion shown to me by these volunteer medics and protesters alike,” said Jessie-Uyanik. “I felt safe in their presence.”
Another huge crowd tonight in Portland, including a new "wall" on the front lines: a Wall of Vets.— Mike Baker (@ByMikeBaker) July 25, 2020
Here's a look at the line of military veterans getting set up here in front of the federal courthouse. Behind them, the Wall of Moms and the Wall of Dads are arriving. pic.twitter.com/gGnXHjI3k2
Thankfully, a CAT scan showed no signs of brain injury or damage to her skull, but they did find strange “tiny fragments” in her skin and one of her eyes that they could not identify. She was given seven stitches and a recommendation to see an eye doctor.
After telling her story, Jessie-Uyanik encouraged people to find whatever way they could to support the Black Lives Matter movement, and in particular, to vote.
“Vote like you could get shot in the face for stepping out and speaking up.”
Comments on her post have been overwhelmingly positive, thanking Jessie-Uyanik for putting her life at risk for the cause, in spite of trolls coming to leave laughing reacts everywhere.
In spite of urging from local officials, the Trump administration has continued to refuse to withdraw federal agents from Portland and is now sending them to other cities across the U.S.