A Portland employee of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement says he tricked local protesters into letting him get his truck off federal property, after Portland police refused to assist him.
Nick Carefelle is the first ICE employee to go on the record with allegations that Portland cops, acting under the directive of Mayor Ted Wheeler, refused to assist federal immigration agents while they were surrounded by a protest blockade.
"I felt like I was being singled out because of the situation," he tells WW, "and I wasn't being offered the same protections as somebody else that might have been calling. It definitely was a gut punch."
On June 19, the third day of the protest, federal police escorted ICE employees out of their South Waterfront building. Carefelle had to leave his Toyota truck behind and call an Uber to get home.
He came back in the evening, after hours and off-duty, with a group of friends to retrieve his personal vehicle.
Already, ICE employees had called Portland police multiple times for assistance as they tried to leave the building. Mayor Ted Wheeler tweeted that he did not want police to be "to be engaged or sucked into a conflict."
On that June evening, Carefelle says he walked through the Occupy ICE camp that had shut down and blocked the entrances and exits around the federal building on Southwest Macadam Avenue. As he passed his truck, Carefelle snuck a peak to see if protesters had damaged it or slashed the tired. They hadn't touched it.
Then he walked down the street with this buddies and tried to formulate a plan. The exits were blocked. Already, protesters were eyeing the men suspiciously and sending people to walk drive by as they plotted, taking photos and videos.
Carefelle says he and another man both called the Portland police non-emergency line to ask for assistance recovering the truck from the lot. They pleaded with officers to come out and help them get the vehicle "in a safe and nonviolent way." He says both men were told that officers could not help them.
"We're here, we're not going to leave this vehicle to the mercy of the protesters," Carefelle says the men told police.
Minutes later, Carefelle says a group of protesters walked up to ask what the men were doing.
"I made up a story," he says. "I told them that we were there for a friend who was a Tesla employee whose vehicle was trapped in the back field and that our friend was real spooked and scared by all the stuff going on."
Carefelle remembers the protesters being sympathetic to the story.
"They had no problem with Tesla employees," he says. Two women walked him to his Toyota and showed him where to drive off the property as other protesters moved the barricades out of his way.
"A lie is what got my truck back to me," he says. " I drove past the barricades and off down the road."