The landlord of the federal immigration building currently blockaded by protesters has admitted being at the wheel of a car that struck a demonstrator Monday evening.
Stuart Lindquist said that he was driving a silver Mercedes SUV which protesters say accelerated towards and hit Juliette Morgans, who was occupying the site. Several protesters, including Morgans, say the acceleration appeared deliberate.
Lindquist, 79, manages his family's partnership, which owns the Southwest Portland building leased by U.S. Customs and Immigration enforcement.
This morning, Lindquist was observed demanding that Portland police and staffers for Mayor Ted Wheeler remove the occupiers. Wheeler's office refused, although a staffer did offer to make sure other building tenants could enter and exit the building.
In an interview with this reporter today, Lindquist offered to fight the anti-ICE protesters. "I'd be glad to take them on one at a time, bring 'em on. Even at my age, I'm ready to go."
When asked if he had driven at the protesters, Lindquist said "I wanted to get away from them because they were pounding on my windows."
When asked if that meant his action was deliberate, Lindquist repeated, "I wanted to get away from them because they were threatening me. They can't do that."
Just before the car allegedly struck Morgans, it had been trying to access a parking lot adjoining the building on its southern end, and protesters had blocked its passage.
In a video seen by WW, the driver is seen to back out slightly and engage in a verbal confrontation with the protesters. At one point he appears to hit a man's phone to the ground. Later, he appears to accelerate suddenly and strike Morgans, who was filming the incident.
In an interview on Monday evening, Morgans said she had not been struck forcefully, but that the incident may have aggravated an existing hip injury.
After being surrounded by protesters, Lindquist parked outside a nearby Tesla service center, a building which he also owns.
Protesters blocked the entrances to that parking garage for some fifteen minutes before voting to let Lindquist leave. But he remained in the garage, and was seen an hour later talking to Portland Police Bureau officers.
PPB spokesman Sergeant Chris Burley tells WW that police are willing to investigate the collision, but "the person or people reportedly struck by the vehicle have not contacted the Police Bureau."
Also on Thursday morning, Lindquist and real estate broker Dale Bernardson had a sidewalk meeting with police officers and a member of Wheeler's staff.
The others at the meeting were two uniformed police officers and senior mayoral advisor Berk Nelson. They talked around 11 am on Southewest Banccroft street, not far east of the ICE building.
Lindquist and Bernardson expressed concerns about the protest taking place on the site which they described as "private property," and expressing concern about janitorial staff and other employees at the building.
Nelson adhered to Mayor Ted Wheeler's position announced yesterday, saying that "The direction from our office is that the federal government is basically responsible for what's causing the protest."
"Our office does not want to get involved in enforcing anything that has to do with the federal mandate that they're out there protesting," he said.
Then, he put the problem in terms of public perceptions.
"If police officers in uniform go in and try to escort people to the building, then all of a sudden we're complicit in baby killing," he said. "That's what the story is going to be and we're trying to manage that," he said.
But he offered exceptions to the hands-off policy for Lindquist's employees—while not wanting to incite the protesters.
He told Lindquist and Bernardson, "What I'm hoping to establish here by talking is to figure out the best way to work together, to help get your employees into the building and not have it look like our officers are helping this take place."
Mayoral spokesman Michael Cox explained the conversation as Nelson "telling the property owner diplomatically that he was out of luck," and said there was no inconsistency between Nelson's remarks and the mayor's refusal to intervene on behalf of ICE.
He reaffirmed Wheeler's remarks from yesterday. "The mayor made the decision that we will not be complicit in the Administration's policy of separating mothers from their babies."
Before the meeting took place, Lindquist had taken an impromptu tour of the occupation, and had verbally jousted with protesters. One occupier told him, "I cannot wait to shit on your grave."
The property which houses the ICE building has embroiled Lindquist in controversy before. In 2011, he was battling City Hall, the South Waterfront Neighborhood Association, and a local charter school over ICE's tenancy in the building.
Lindquist claimed this morning to have received death threats as a result of having his personal details published online in recent days.
Leaving the occupation site, he said, "Everybody agrees they have the right to oppose something. Everyone agrees that they have to stay off private property. America was set up on private property rights."
Misidentifying this reporter's accent, he added, "in Britain, the king wouldn't allow this protest."