Protest lays siege to Portland ICE headquarters
Hundreds of protesters have filtered in and out of a vigil held at the site of Portland's Immigration and Customs Enforcement headquarters since Sunday.
Protesters say they will stay for the foreseeable future.
Nearly 50 people gathered at the Southwest Macadam Avenue building Tuesday afternoon, June 19, where tents had been pitched, free ice cream had been distributed, candles sat ready for an evening vigil and dozens of signs reprimanding the Trump administration lined the street.
Protesters have set up camp at ICE's headquarters in opposition of the Trump administration's policy of separating families entering the country at the southern U.S. border. Some protesters have taken shifts at the site, while others have been there since the weekend. Cherry, who declined to give her last name, was one of the first people at the site.
"On the first day we started with not too many supplies, not too many people, but so many people have helped and donated since then," Cherry said.
She said protesters might all be there for varying reasons, but their message is the same. "We're here in solidarity with the folks being detained for just wanting a better life," Cherry said. "Children shouldn't be separated from their families."
So far, Cherry said, the protest has been peaceful. Few law enforcement officers have interacted with the group. "I'm pretty sure the people inside (ICE headquarters) didn't think we'd be staying this long," Cherry said. "But, we're here."
She hopes the group stays at the site and keeps protesting for as long as it takes to see policy changes. "Portland's supposed to be a sanctuary city, but there's this ICE facility right downtown that detains people all the time," Cherry said.
Chad Draizin, owner of Fifty Licks Ice Cream, parked his ice cream truck next to the Portland encampment Tuesday afternoon and handed out free scoops to people taking part in the protest.
"I wanted to support folks that were out here spending their time," Draizin said. "I've got this truck. It's a little bigger than just a body so it makes a big impression."
Draizin said he is proud so many people have joined the protest to push the nation away from "fascism, oppression and control." "Being out here and being present sends a message to the government, but it also sends a message to the people who wish things were better but don't actually do anything. Seeing everyone makes it feel acceptable to join in."
As protesters gather on Macadam Avenue south of downtown, protests have also been taking place near the Federal Correction Institute in Sheridan, about an hour south of Portland. The Trump administration's policy brought 123 asylum seekers from 16 countries to the all-male prison.
Ian Philabaum, program director at Innovation Law Lab in Oregon, said attorneys have been denied access to the asylum seekers at the correction institute. "ICE Is not following its own policies, nor is it following the Constitution as it should be applied," Philabaum said in a telephone conference call. "We ask that ICE meets us half way and grant asylum seekers their constitutional right."
Mat dos Santos, ACLU of Oregon's legal director, said it was no surprise that disorganization is occuring at the correctional institute. "Local officials in Oregon were totally caught off guard," Santos said. "The Sheridan facility is not built for this."
Back at the Macadam Avenue protest, more signs popped up and cars honked in solidarity as early evening set in.
Draizin said he wasn't shocked by the Trump administration's decision, or the protests in Oregon, but hopes action, even hundreds of miles away from Washington, D.C., creates change. "Every time I think I'm surprised, something else happens for me to be surprised about," Draizin said. "The time of being shocked is over. It's time to get things done."