Federal law enforcement officers on Thursday morning began removing some protesters encamped outside a US Immigration and Customs Enforcement field office in Oregon’s largest city, officials said, more than a week after the demonstrations forced the Portland facility to close temporarily.
Officers moved in on the encampment of Occupy ICE PDX demonstrators at about 5:30 a.m. PT, the US attorney’s office in Oregon said. Officials hope to reopen the facility early next week for the first time since June 20, Federal Protective Service spokesman Robert Sperling said.
An unspecified number of protesters were taken into custody as federal law enforcement personnel cleared a path that includes the facility’s driveway and front door, Sperling said.
Officers in riot gear stood shoulder-to-shoulder, protecting the path to the entrance, video from CNN affiliate KPTV shows. Protesters remained in the area, with some approaching the officers intermittently, talking with them or appearing to record them with cell phone cameras.
In a tweet Thursday, Occupy ICE PDX — PDX is the code for Portland’s main airport — acknowledged officers were clearing people from in front of the building but said protesters “aren’t going anywhere.”
“Arrest us today, we’ll grow stronger tomorrow!” the tweet reads.
Last week, ICE temporarily closed its Portland field offices after demonstrators had pitched tents in front of the facility to protest the Trump administration’s policy to criminally prosecute anyone who crosses the border illegally. The policy led to hundreds of children being separated from their parents.
Amid criticism, President Donald Trump on June 20 signed an executive order to stop the practice of separating families. Hundreds of families still have not been reunited.
On Monday, officers with the Federal Protective Service distributed notices to the Portland demonstrators, ordering them to vacate the property. The US attorney for Oregon said it’s illegal to obstruct entrances, lobbies, offices and parking lots of federal buildings, like the one in southwest Portland.
Occupy ICE movements have popped up in various cities, including New York City, Los Angeles and Detroit, in opposition to the immigration policies.