How Portland Occupiers Shut Down ICE

The occupation began spontaneously after a half-dozen people who attended a Father’s Day protest at the ICE building camped overnight. By the next day, dozens had arrived, and about 20 protesters peacefully blocked the vehicles of ICE employees as they left work. Three Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officers threatened to arrest anyone who blocked cars. Apart from a lone arrest the next day, the threat turned out to be a bluff. Portland police could have swept protesters aside easily, as they did during an ICE protest in October 2017, except they were nowhere to be seen. Mayor Ted Wheeler tweeted he didn’t want to see police “sucked into a conflict.” He called the separation policy an “abomination” and indignantly cited Trump administration threats to arrest mayors of sanctuary cities like Portland. In a conversation witnessed by reporter Jason Wilson, senior mayoral advisor Berk Nelson told two police officers that if police were seen protecting ICE employees, “then all of a sudden we’re complicit in baby killing”. On the third day of the occupation, a dozen DHS officers in riot gear escorted more than 20 ICE employees out of the building into waiting vans. The facility had been shut down. Within a week, a mini-society blossomed outside. More than 50 tents sprung up, along with a kitchen, child-care center, first-aid tent, pantry with everything from baby food to menstrual products, and outdoor living room that hosts Shabbat rituals. This being Portland, a pizza owner hand-delivered seven pies, and one evening, an acclaimed Southern-style restaurant served roasted game hens. It could be Occupy Wall Street. Except, as local organizer Nick Neumann, 39, says, “It feels a lot more strategic. There are a lot more Black and brown people. We know who the wack-a-doodles are. A lot of people are newly concerned because of the policy of separation, and this is a space for radicalization.”

Arun Gupta in How Portland Occupiers Shut Down ICE (Inthesetimes)