Portland Police Chief Says She Decided to Sweep Occupy ICE Camp, With or Without the Mayor’s Support

"I wasn't asking for permission to go out and clear this camp," Chief Danielle Outlaw said.

Portland Police Chief Danielle Outlaw. (Cheyenne Thorpe / Multnomah County)

Portland police chief Danielle Outlaw says she told the mayor Portland police would clear the protest camp surrounding a federal immigration office, with or without his support.

In a very frank radio interview first noted by the Portland Tribune, Outlaw says she approached Mayor Ted Wheeler and told him she intended to use her bureau's resources to put an end to the protest outside U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's headquarters.

"I went to the mayor and said, 'Look, this isn't sustainable, not just resource wise, it's just out of control for many reasons,'" she told talk-radio host Lars Larson on Tuesday. "I wasn't asking for permission to go out and clear this camp. I said, 'This is what's going to happen and here's how it's going to happen.'"

Outlaw said that she and Wheeler were in agreement that the camp needed sweeping.

But the police chief's claims seem to contrast with Wheeler's earlier support for the aims of the Occupy ICE protest camp, which lasted more than a month and temporarily halted U.S. Immigration Customs and Enforcement operations at the federal building in Southwest Portland. The mayor said he did not want Portland police to get involved with the conflict between federal officials and protesters.

"I want to be very clear I do not want the [Portland police] to be engaged or sucked into a conflict," the mayor tweeted, "particularly from a federal agency that I believe is on the wrong track, that has not fully lived American values of inclusion and is also an agency where the former head suggested that people who lead cities that are sanctuary cities like this one should be arrested."

At a press conference several weeks after the camp started, Wheeler reiterated his opposition to federal immigration policies, but said he had doubts about whether the camp should continue.

"Over time there were other problems that were clearly identified, it was a fluid situation," Wheeler said. "We knew that that the encampment was not sustainable."

This is not the first time Outlaw's public comments regarding ICE have raised questions about whether she and the mayor are on the same page when it comes to the federal immigration agency.

Last July, while Outlaw still served as deputy police chief in Oakland, Calif., she defended an agreement between the local police and ICE, amid Oakland City Council efforts to end the relationship between the two law enforcement agencies.

WW reported on her comments at an Oakland City Council meeting where she defended the partnership, saying Oakland police worked with ICE agents on "human traffic investigations, gang investigations, and we work with them as well during our cease-fire operations which focuses on our most violent criminals here in the city of Oakland."

Outlaw and the mayor's office denied that the comments made in California had any bearing on Portland's policies.

Her new comments declaring that it was her decision to break up the Occupy ICE protest camp again raise questions about whether she and Wheeler are on the same page on immigration policy.

Larson asked the police chief if she would vote in favor of a ballot measure to repeal Oregon's 31-year-old sanctuary state law, but Outlaw demurred. She told Larson she was not a politician and did not want to weigh in on politics.

However, Outlaw did shoot down Larson's suggestion that Portland police should concern themselves with enforcing immigration violations—not because she supports the city and state's sanctuary laws, but because the police bureau doesn't have the resources to do the feds' jobs for them.

"I don't choose to prioritize my time or my resources in that way," she said. "Because of the resources we do have and what we don't have, I have to focus our efforts on violent crimes and quality of life crimes."

The Portland police and mayor have come under fire for their treatment of the Occupy ICE protest camp. The national ICE union sent Wheeler a cease and desist letter last month, demanding that he reverse his policy that allegedly asks police to ignore calls for service made by federal agents and employees. Wheeler says no such policy exists.

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