Terminal missing listing?

Sorry for being a noob and jumping in here, I have a question and I am curious if anyone on this board might have the answer.
I am not a Mac person, My kids use Mac so I am in a position of support.

I am a linux\Unix person, so sometimes I find myself going to the Terminal to just get something done because it seems like that is just easier.

We had 41 images in an iMessage on a Mac. Trying to select All, Copy paste or drag to a folder in finder. Did not seem to work. Hourglass or circle thing just comes up and then goes away but nothing happens. So I look up where are these messages and I figure I will just go to where these files are and move them in Terminal.

When I get to “/User/will/Library/Message” I cannot see anything below. ls -la does not work.
So I assume it is permissions.
I am root - dwrx------ on Messages.
So I chmod 655 *
no luck.

what is going on here? Obviously locked down, but how? Why?

is there a way to hack my way into here ?

I figured out how to deal with the images, just curious at this point.

Select a thread in Messages in macOS

Click “Details”. You will see the images, and can select, download, or add to Photos.