In the US, we all have the right to freedom of speech. Recently, some schoolchildren used their right to speak out about something important to them when they crafted some Black Lives Matter signs and hung them up at their school in Portland, Oregon.
The Black Lives Matter movement has been gaining traction in light of the recent police killings of unarmed Black people in this country. It’s become a rallying cry, aimed at helping others embrace the idea that we need to value the right of Black people to exist safely as much as everyone else. Still, there are people who oppose the movement altogether.
In a recent horrific act, some women were seen very publicly opposing the movement. A group of women tore down the handmade signs and carried them away.
They had open carry weapons adorning their hips while they removed the children’s artwork. One mom caught the scene on video and shared it to Facebook.
“This is hard to experience,” Mindy King wrote alongside the disturbing images and videos. “So much hate in the world. They showed up on my front doorstep today with hate and open carry weapons! I may not have been able to stop it but I couldn’t stay silent!”
Signs on the fence of the Cottonwood School of Civics and Science, next to the ICE facility, after the old signs the kids made were torn down: “BLM,” “BLACK TRANS LIVES MATTER,” “NO JUSTICE NO PEACE,” “PORTLAND KIDS,” “BLACK JOY IS SACRED,” and many more.https://t.co/OCCiB5ai7n pic.twitter.com/tTCljau6m2— e c o n o m y b r e a k f a s t (@econbrkfst) October 21, 2020
King lives in an apartment just across from the school. She opened up to Scary Mommy about what happened that day. “My kids have gone to school there for 8 years, one child there every year for the last 8 years,” she said. The school is at an interesting location, too — located right next to an ICE facility. There are often protests there, she said, which was the case on Sunday, October 18. That’s when her son looked out the window and saw people tearing down the artwork.
Signs on the fence across from the ICE facility last night: “AMPLIFY BLACK VOICES”
“Black Lives Matter”
“We KEEP US SAFE”
“CHINGA LA MIGRA”
“NADIE ES ILEGAL” (“NO ONE IS ILLEGAL”) – HOLD The ICE”https://t.co/kUBN3Pp3h9 pic.twitter.com/u6PvDU959O— e c o n o m y b r e a k f a s t (@econbrkfst) October 21, 2020
“We see our share of protests at night,” she said. “My kids are trained to go tell me so I can see if it’s safe. My son said, ‘something is going on outside mom,’ so I went to look and saw trucks full of people pulled up. There were Trump flags on the trucks and we saw them pulling out actual large weapons, long guns, handguns in holsters,” she shared. “It was terrifying to see during the day.”
Three white supremacists took down Black Lives Matter signs made by children and hung on their school fence here in Portland. A parent stepped in as an ally, tried to get them to stop, and filmed it.— Laura Stanfill (@LHStanfill) October 21, 2020
She also told that outlet that this isn’t the first time it’s happened. In about five months since the children’s artwork has been on display, this is the second time it’s been removed. While everyone is entitled to their own opinion, it seems pretty heartless to take down artwork made by children, especially when the messages contained are peaceful ones.
This is so low. How many of these “patriots” complain about “BLM” stealing/destroying property, specifically art? All?
Last PM, I photographed the new signs, both on the fence at the Cottonwood School next to the ICE facility and on the fence across the street. More pics below. https://t.co/aD8PXund52 pic.twitter.com/LKiQLevgbx— e c o n o m y b r e a k f a s t (@econbrkfst) October 21, 2020
“I noticed them cutting the signs and I’m in my bare feet and sweats, home with my kids. I grabbed my mask and keys and went out. By then they’d gotten quite a few signs and I tried pleading with them asking, ‘What are you guys doing, you can’t do this, it’s not your property.’”
Portland. Activists replace childrens’ BLM art at Cottonwood School. The childrens’ art was destroyed by members of Cops NW on Sunday October 18th. Join the revolution. Defeat American fascism. Please Retweet. https://t.co/1W2XnvJbSl— timothy (@tankertimothy) October 20, 2020
“I tried to appeal to them, reason with them,” she said. Of course, realizing that they all were carrying weapons, she admits she felt intimidated.
“One of my neighbors who is a person of color had picked up the signs they’d taken down and put them on the side of the fence. He was trying to appeal to them about something and they were just arguing with people all over the place, with people who were just hanging out,” she said.
The Proud Boys tore down elementary schoolkids’ art hung across the street from an ICE facility in Portland. The schoolkids placed it on the school’s fence in support of the children being detained there!!!— Ebina Yura (@matchiiyp) October 21, 2020
Even though she felt scared, she didn’t sit back and let it happen. She recorded it and shared it with the world. While she wasn’t able to stop them from removing the artwork, she still got a pretty clear message across by talking back to those responsible and letting them know that their actions were unacceptable — and exposing those actions on social media.
Portland protesters meet at Elizabeth Caruthers Park to create and hang up artwork and signs for The Cottonwood School of Civics and Science (Located next to the ICE building) after previous art was torn down. #PortlandProtests #PDXprotests #portland #protest #ICE pic.twitter.com/NlLn4AwP1L— Independent Media PDX (@NDpendentPDX) October 21, 2020
For kids, it may be an important lesson. There will always be people who choose to push back against messages of hope, peace, and change. But it’s no reason to give up. King said the kids are already working on new signs.
“Another group already showed up ready to support them, with art supplies,” she explained. “People want to donate for new artwork.”
A group is marching towards the Cottonwood School of Civics and Science to hang posters in support of the #BlackLivesMatter movement after the originals put up by students were torn down over the weekend. @fox12oregon pic.twitter.com/hDIL4gLPrF— Bridget Chavez (@BridgetChavezTV) October 21, 2020
Still, it’s a very unfortunate incident. Of course, many of the children were unsettled by it. “It is important for our kids to be able to express themselves,” King said. “Kids were crying that their artwork was taken down.”
The school released a statement about the incident as well. It read, in part, “The Cottonwood School of Civics and Science stands in solidarity with our Black families. Our goal is to nurture compassionate and confident students who possess the skills needed to confront racism in our community and beyond. We recognize that multiple perspectives and experiences can coexist in one place, and we hold firm in our dedication to racial justice. Hate has no place here. We are committed to fighting systemic racism, especially within our schools and neighborhoods, and we strive to model humility and non-violence for our children.”