Dads with leaf blowers join 'Wall of Moms' in Portland protests

After federal agents dressed in camouflage and with no way to identify them started whisking away Portland protesters in unmarked rental vehicles last weekend, many citizens decided enough was enough. The Department of Homeland Security Acting Secretary, Chad Wolf, has indicated that the feds have no plans to back down, and Portlanders are showing up in droves to express their displeasure.

Portland has never been a place where people do anything in expected ways, so it wasn't all that surprising when a "Wall of Moms" wearing bike helmets and bright yellow shirts showed up arm-in-arm to shield protesters from the feds.

Not sure if anyone expected that wall to be followed up by a "Dads with Leaf Blowers." Yet here we are.



Dads with leaf blowers slung over their shoulders, holding signs with messages such as "Fathers Against Fascism," have joined the thousands of protesters who are now showing up in Portland nightly. Protests in Portland have continued for 50-some-odd days, with numbers increasing since the federal government agents arrived. Local and state government authorities have vehemently opposed the intervention/invasion of federal troops, who have used tear gas, flash bangs, and batons against protesters.

Not sure what the feds were expecting to happen, but according to Washington Post reporter Nick Miroff, a DHS official "expressed frustration and astonishment that Portland protesters were showing up with leaf blowers to disperse tear gas and send it right back at fed agents."

There are some solutions here. Maybe the agents could just...not use tear gas on peaceful protesters?

And perhaps the feds should realize that "frustration and astonishment" is exactly what you should expect when you attack American citizens, especially in a city that inspired its own surreal-but-almost-real television show about the city's culture. (Portlandia is fiction that skirts very close to the truth, despite how bizarre it may seem to people who've never been to Portland.)

So far, they've been met with a diverse crowd of demonstrators protesting racial injustice in addition to a naked woman, a badass Navy vet who took a beating without flinching, a "wall of moms" and now the "dads with leaf blowers."

A protester who goes by the alias "Doug Smith" told Truthout that the leaf blowers are not necessarily meant to be effective against tear gas individually, but are more of a symbol of what the dads are doing there.

"Honestly, I think you'd need scores of leaf blowers with a phalanx of dads holding their ground under pretty perfect conditions to use them effectively in the dispersal of chemical agents," he said. "But they are an iconic symbol of a tool dads use to clean up messes."

So far, the protesters don't appear to have plans to back away from this fight or to stop exercising their first amendment rights.

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.