After a Dawn Raid, Federal Agents In Riot Gear Stand Watch Over “Very, Very Peaceful” Protest at Portland ICE Building

"We’re going to be here for a while."

(Sam Gehrke)

After a dawn raid that dislodged a protest blockade, U.S. Department of Homeland Security officers plan to hold a barricade between the protest camp and the building used by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement on Portland's South Waterfront.

"We're going to be here for a while," says Federal Protective Services spokesman Robert Sperling. "The intent is to make sure the employees, as they return to work, are safe and secure and the facility remains safe and secure."

Sperling says ICE agents will likely return to work next week, though he did not offer specifics about their plans.

Protesters confront federal officers after a raid of Occupy ICE in Portland on June 28, 2018. (Sam Gehrke)

In the hours after today's raid, protesters milled about on one side of a strip of yellow police tape, occasionally yelling obscenities at DHS officers in full riot gear who formed a barricade just steps away.

"How would you like it if someone came and took your family and put them in dog kennels?" one protester shouted at the federal agents.

Scattered behind the black-clad riot squad, a few Special Response Team officers in camouflage uniforms carried bright yellow rifles. The Special Response Team is the federal equivalent of a police SWAT team.

Protesters confront federal officers after a raid of Occupy ICE in Portland on June 28, 2018. (Sam Gehrke)

Despite the heavy law enforcement presence, FPS says the protesters have overwhelmingly cooperated with official orders.

"It's been very, very peaceful," Sperling says. "Other than the yelling and screaming and calling of names, but I consider that peaceful. No one has thrown anything or hit anybody. There's been no violence."

Eight protesters were arrested as DHS agents cleared the building's entrance and driveway. FSP declined to release their names or charges, though Sperling said they would likely be charged with failing to comply with a directive, obstructing a federal agent, or a similar charge.

Related: As protesters risk a showdown with feds, a document shows the potential legal consequences.

Shortly after clearing the protest barricades from the entrance and driveway at the ICE building, DHS officials also removed a flag protesters had been flying that read "Refugees Welcome." They replaced it with an American flag.

Near a pile of discarded wood, signs and tarps that were torn down when DHS officers arrived this morning, a few protesters shouted at the officers calling the "pigs" and yelling "Fuck ICE."

Occupy ICE following a dawn raid in Portland on June 28, 2018. (Sam Gehrke)

Protesters say they don't intend to leave the camp, which has been dubbed Occupy ICE PDX. The occupation shut down ICE operations last week after demonstrators blocked the entrance and driveway, trapping some federal agents inside the building for hours.

Local officials have been distancing themselves from the federal immigration agency. Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler called the Trump administration's family separation policy "un-American." City commissioners Amanda Fritz and Chloe Eudaly joined protesters in calls to abolish ICE at yesterday's city council meeting.

Wheeler pledged not to involve Portland police in dismantling the protest camp. But this morning, PPB officers blocked traffic and pedestrians as DHS cleared the entrance to the ICE building.

Federal officers form a line after a raid of Occupy ICE in Portland on June 28, 2018. (Sam Gehrke)

"PPB did not assist DHS in clearing the camp," says the mayor's chief of staff Michael Cox. "PPB provided traffic control in the area affected by the action to protect commuters and pedestrians."

PPB spokesman Sgt. Chris Burley echoed the mayor's office. He says police responded to traffic backups after DHS had already started clearing the protest camp.

"In line with the Mayor and Police Commissioner's directions, the Police Bureau was not involved in the Federal Protective Services (FPS) actions as it related to Occupy ICE PDX," Burley said in a statement. "Portland Police Bureau officers recognized the need to assist motorists in identifying alternative routes around road closures due to actions related to Occupy ICE PDX."

Willamette Week’s reporting has concrete impacts that change laws, force action from civic leaders, and drive compromised politicians from public office. Support WW's journalism today.