Federal agents in Bend, Ore., Clashed with hundreds of protesters late Wednesday after a long blockade that lasted several hours after Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials arrested at least two men the agency said were a “threat to the public.” “.
The band, which is about a three-hour trip from Portland, was the latest episode in tensions between protesters, local police and federal agents.
“I have never been so disgusted with my government and so proud of my community,” Deschutes District Attorney John Hummel, who followed the protest, wrote on Twitter.
The protest lasted several hours after two unmarked ICE buses were blocked by protesters who were apparently witnessing the arrests.
Shortly before midnight, federal agents removed the two men detained by a bus and fled the scene. The protesters also dispersed, according to an Oregon Public Broadcasting reporter.
“It looks like Federal Agents have left the area,”; Bend police wrote on Twitter. “Participants in the first change event seem to have [dispersed] peacefully. “
Bend police said they had become aware ICE agents were in town conducting an investigation but were not given details, the department said in a statement.
“Bend police are not involved in ICE operations,” the statement said. “We do not use funds or personnel or equipment to enforce federal immigration laws or detain people based on immigration status … We are on the scene to allow free speech and a peaceful area to gather and provide support for life safety. “
Protest organizers urged participants not to vandalize buses, according to Cureton. After one person wrote on the bus another person cleared it. A speaker also told protesters to “get a knee” when federal agents arrive instead of leaving.
A reporter at the scene said federal agents used pepper spray at least once. There are no reports of violence.
“The law enforcement activity in Bend, Oregon is part of the U.S. Customs Immigration and Enforcement Mission to arrest criminal aliens who pose a threat to public safety and get them off the road.” a statement acting DHS Deputy Secretary Ken Cucinelli, posted on Twitter, “The two arrested individuals each had a history of violent criminal behavior.”
“While ICE respects the rights of people to express their views peacefully, this does not include unlawful interference with their federal law enforcement duties,” she said. “ICE will take all necessary measures to ensure the safety of its officers and detainees, and will vigorously prosecute anyone who places them in a harmful manner.”
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The band’s mayor, Sally Russell, wrote on Twitter that she had been told that the two detained men had orders for their arrest and that it was not a “purge of undocumented immigrants.”
She added that she does not support ICE. “I’m very concerned about everyone in our community, and especially about our Latin community,” Russell wrote. “ICE is a Federal agency and frustratingly we have no power over the Executive Branch of our country.”
Newly sworn Bend Police Chief Mike Krantz said at a news conference earlier that local police were there just to protect the protesters and were not helping ICE. Police withdrew when federal agents arrived.
“We want to make sure the members of the community present are safe,” the department said in a statement Wednesday night, advising that federal agents were going to the area to disperse the crowd. “Please move to sidewalks or leave the area.”
Central Oregon Peacekeepers president Luke Richter told KTVZ earlier that they would stay there until they saw the arrest warrants.
“If they are going to get people from a holy city, they need to have the right documentation for it,” he said. “We have not seen any warrants for their arrest.”
Those who know the detainees said the men have lived there for years, according to KTVZ-TV.
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The protest movement to repeal the ICE has recently taken off along with anti-police demonstrations. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, DN.Y., who supports the agency’s rescue, wrote in a message late last month, “Removing ICE is not a radical thing to do, it is a humane thing to do.”