The occupation of the Portland Immigration and Customs Enforcement building has gone on for a month now, and while it has spawned copycat protests around the country and brought attention to Trump administration immigration abuses, businesses near the site are feeling strain from their new neighbors.
On Friday around 10 a.m., the street outside of the ICE building at 4310 Southwest Macadam Ave., in South Waterfront was blocked off by Department of Homeland Security officers, as it regularly has been during the occupation. A looped recording of a demonstrator shouting, "Quit blocking the road, you're hurting local businesses," blared on repeat for at least an hour.
A man powerwashing the sidewalk in front of a neighboring apartment complex exclaimed, "That voice is in my head now!"
The Happy Camper Food Cart is located directly across the street from ICE and according to owner Julie Hakes, ICE employees are the cart's main customers. When the occupation first occurred, Hakes said that she was supportive of the cause.
Then the protest started causing problems. Hakes said that if an officer from the Department of Homeland Security or a person who works at ICE tried to come buy food from the cart, protesters would harass her employees as well as the customers. She says that protestors threatened to burn down her cart.
"To them they [ICE and DHS employees] are the enemy, and since we serve them we are the enemy," Hakes says.
The cart funds a nonprofit Hakes and her husband run called Operation Off the Grid, which gives supplies and food to homeless people.
Hakes said that since the occupation has begun, they haven't made any profits and the scuffles between DHS and the demonstrators has been terrifying to her daughter, who works in the cart. So, no more Happy Camper.
The cart had been up for sale before the protest had begun due to staffing issues, but the Hakes had planned to continue operating until it had been sold. Hakes says the protest has made it harder to sell the cart, and impossible to continue operation.
"We decided that today is the last day that we're going to be open until this thing ends," Hakes says.
It's not just the demonstrators who are loud. DHS has blasted music at the demonstrators for hours.
Reach Community Development, an affordable housing nonprofit, is headquartered diagonally across an intersection from the occupation.
Anthony Petchel, a Reach executive, says there are about 40 formerly homeless veterans in the Reach apartments, and the loud noise and police presence can be frustrating for all residents, and potentially triggering for veterans.
"This is essentially their backyard," he said.
Perhaps the longest-standing nearby business is The Old Spaghetti Factory on Southwest Bancroft Street. In an email, company president Dean Griffith says the Old Spaghetti Factory supports the right to protest peacefully and lawfully but street closures related to the occupation have kept customers away.
Griffith says he's working with Mayor Ted Wheeler's office to seek relief for for employees who have "had their incomes negatively impacted."
This post has been updated to clarify that the Happy Camper food cart was listed for sale before conflict with protesters.