Mothers Against Pepper Spray (MAPS)

Art by PJ Seleska.

By K. Kendall

PJ Seleska’s powerful picture of a riot cop drenching the Constitution Declaration of Independence in pepper spray has been all over the internet today. Police fired pepper spray at unarmed, seated Occupy protesters at UC Davis, in California; and here in Portland, police aimed a stream of pepper spray at Liz Nichols.


These attacks have inspired Grace Reed to establish an organization she calls Mothers Against Pepper Spray.

In her flyer, Reed says to the Portland Police Bureau:

“Your job is hard, we get that.
You are hired to protect the public/community.
We are the public and we appreciate your work.
Pepper Spraying is not Protection.

“Before you spray a child in the face with pepper spray, perhaps you should ask your mother.”

Reed, who is 70 years old, wants a campaign of all people–mothers and non-mothers, to address the police and make it clear that using pepper spray on unarmed, non-threatening people, is not acceptable. She plans to “bring sanity and balance” to a conversation with the police. She envisions letter-writing, sign-making, and as much as possible, a public, visible presence of MAPS at marches and demonstrations.

“I see mothers and grandmothers going out and saying, ‘Did you get my permission to spray my child?’” She wants to use conflict resolution techniques, to avoid confrontation and division, and to appeal to the humanity in each person, the police as well as the protesters.

Reed, who is a poet, also offers a poem on the subject, as follows:

Mom, Is It OK?

(dedicated to all good cops everywhere) 

He thought, “Mom is it OK?”
He said out loud in front of the mirror, “I need to go to work today.
I want to make a difference.
I want to do a good job.”
He drove to work
He put on his black suit
He loaded his belts, pockets and boots
He put his helmet on
He stood in front of the youth chanting, drumming, sitting
He was told to follow procedure
He followed procedure
Youth died today
His heart died today
Mom is it OK?

Reed adds, “MAPS’ mission is to mobilize people from all sides (police have mothers too) to come together, talk over strategies, and bring balance, wisdom and peace to the present situation. We will meet at least once a week for the first few months to write letters to city government, police dept. etc. We want to encourage social justice and continue police reform. We know that Occupy  is a non-violent movement, and we offer non-violent, non-polarized support for that movement.”

To join MAPS call Grace at 503-224-0843
or email [email protected]

Grace E. Reed’s blog describes her as “a passionate advocate for positive change in individuals, groups, and society, with a special emphasis on youth-at-risk.” She was part of Portland’s encampment as a broadcaster with KBOO  .

  5 comments for “Mothers Against Pepper Spray (MAPS)

Comments are closed.