A group of around 50 socialists gathered at Portland City Hall today to demand that City Council not to cooperate with ICE and not to use police force to break down the occupation at the Portland ICE building.
The Portland chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America had threatened to disrupt the City Council meeting if they didn't get a hearing. But commissioners proved conciliatory—not only giving the socialists a time to speak, but agreeing that ICE should be abolished.
On June 20, Portland DSA wrote an open letter to the City Council, which demanded that the city stop all cooperation with ICE, the Joint Terrorism Task Force and Homeland Security, and called on Mayor Ted Wheeler not to send officers to the Occupy ICE came. (That same day, Wheeler had already pledged not to send police to break up the encampment.)
Wheeler was not at today's meeting, an absence that was planned weeks beforehand, according to City Commissioner Chloe Eudaly.
Eudaly and City Commissioner Amanda Fritz joined the protesters in calls to abolish ICE.
"I visited the [camp] site on Monday. I joined the growing chorus of voices calling for the abolition of ICE," Eudaly said. She said that as far as she knew Wheeler still maintains that Portland police will not be sent to the occupation to break it up.
"As an immigrant I know that we don't have compassionate, reasonable and enforceable immigration laws," said City Commissioner Amanda Fritz. "And until we do, ICE is stupid."
"I don't support spending Portland taxpayers money in investing police time doing whatever they are doing, which we don't know. Even as a council member I don't know [what's being done] with the Joint Terrorism Task Force," Fritz said. (Task force operations require a security clearance, which several Portland mayors haven't received.)
One representative from the Democratic Socialists spoke on their demands for the City Council, saying that the council needs to take the steps outlined in the letter in order to maintain the value of a sanctuary city.
"ICE didn't even exist when my father came to this country. But since its creation they have destroyed millions of lives across the country," said DSA co-chair Olivia Katbi Smith. "Ripping babies from from their parents' arms, sending people who are just seeking asylum to their deaths, this is how ICE functions by design. They are a terrorist organization."
Today's protest marked the second time this week that threats of disruption from the left dissipated, in the event, into polite dissent.
An anonymous group of protesters had warned they would interfere with Canadian professor Jordan Peterson's June 25 speaking engagement at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall. (Peterson has been a vocal skeptic of gender fluidity and an opponent of gender-neutral language.)
In fact, the protest against Peterson was civil—with about 20 members of the DSA holding up signs outside the concert hall, then leaving before Peterson spoke.
WW web editor Elise Herron contributed reporting to this story.