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Heading downtown tonight? Here's a primer on Portland's protest shields! 🛡 Where are they coming from, how are they made and who is making them? 🤔 A thread: 🧵 Stacks of rectangular and c...
(Quick note: to protect that anonymity of volunteers and organizers, faces and tattoos are not included in any of the photographs in this thread unless consent was given. We’re using first names only here, too.)
If you’ve seen photos and video of protests happening in downtown Portland, you’ve probably spotted one of @ghostmobpdx’s and @viv___________'s shields in action. 🛡 (Maybe you saw this video where a police baton bounces right off? - by @ricosroughneck3)
(Or perhaps this one, where a shield deflects a munition? - by @tuckwoodstock)
Two weeks ago, these shields were getting built by 3 people in a garage. Today, an assembly line of over 25 volunteers (and two dogs 🐶) gathered at Clinton Park in Southeast Portland to help put them together.
Using Twitter to coordinate, volunteers gather 3 times a week (location announced the night before) to build these shields. All materials – including duct tape, power tools and pool noodles – are donated (along with everything on this extremely packed snack and supply table). A picnic table topped with ...
So how does a protest shield get made? 🤔
Step 1.) Acquire a 55-gallon barrel. (In the beginning, Ghost (@ghostmobpdx) was buying these barrels – which once carried liquids like soy sauce and canola oil – off of Craiglist. Now all of the barrels are donated.)
Step 2.) Remove the barrel lid. Using a circular saw, a volunteer slices the barrel into four sections. You now have five soon-to-be shields! 🛡🛡🛡🛡🛡
Step 3.) Using a hand drill, a different volunteer makes 6 holes in the center of the plastic. (Shield building sessions are BYOPT: Bring Your Own Power Tools.🛠️🧰) Laying on the grass are an ...
These holes will be used to attach bolts, padding and straps so the shield can be carried like this: A volunteer sitting on the ...
(A plan is in the works to upgrade to drilling 8 holes so the shields can have backpack-style straps. This will help protesters avoid dropping their shields when they have to move fast.)
Step 4.) A volunteer adds the aforementioned bolts. 🔩BOLT FACT🔩 Since starting, Viv (@viv______) estimates they’ve used over 1,200 bolts. That’s a lot of bolts. 😮 (Can you spot the faded NLG number on this volunteer's arm?) A volunteer reaches their a...
Step 5: Another volunteer adds foam and straps. The straps are made from strips of sturdy ratchet tie material. Foam also gets added over the bolts on the front of the shield to protect people from hard edges. A grey plastic bucket holdi...
Step 6: It is ~noodle time.~ A different group of volunteers slices pool noodles lengthwise and fits them along the rough edges of the shield material. This is to protect the protester and anyone they might bump into. A tall box filled with red ...
NOODLE FACT: The volunteers who do this part of the process are called the “noodlers.” (!!!) Here is a noodler in action: A volunteer lines the rim o...
Step 7: Another group of volunteers adds a layer of duct tape around the entire shield (except for the foam/strap section). Each shield needs about 2 rolls of duct tape, and Viv estimates they’ve used 400-500 rolls so far. Two cardboard boxes filled ...
After volunteers have attached the pool noodles, bolts, foam, straps and duct tape to the plastic barrel material, you arrive at the final step of shield building…
Step 8: Spray paint and stencil the shield. Ghost spray paints the surface of each shield black. From there, individuals can add their own unique designs. One volunteer brought these handmade stencils that included images of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery. Stencils are laid out on to...
As a final touch, this message is spray painted onto the interior of every shield: “THIS SIGN WAS PROVIDED FREE OF CHARGE AND IS NOT INDICATION OF ANY GROUP AFFILIATION” (sometimes accompanied by a protective sigil from local witches or a stencil of Portland's elk statue). The interior of a protest s...
In total, each shield takes about 3 hours to make and requires passing through multiple groups of volunteers before it’s finished. All materials and time to produce them is donated, and the shields are offered free of charge to BIPOC protesters and $10 for everyone else.
Ghost, Viv and the volunteers have made about 250 shields so far, and build between between 30 and 55 shields made per session.
How does it feel to see the shields in action? Ghost: “My heart is so warmed, just every time. I’m so proud. There was one time – God, it was beautiful - where a tear gas canister full on exploded off the damn thing and the person is still running away. And the shield was fine." Ghost spray paints the surf...
A longer story featuring interviews with Ghost, Viv and several volunteers, along with some details about their next steps, is coming Monday! Check out @ghostmobpdx and @viv___________ to read more about the shields and ways to contribute.
While y'all are here, have you heard of Portland's Black Resilience Fund? BRF is a 100% volunteer-led organization providing Black Portlanders with relief from financial burdens for basic living expenses and life emergencies. Here's a cool story:…
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