Along the trolley tracks behind the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement field office, a biohazard cleanup crew works under police protection. It finds used needles and buckets of human waste simmering in nearly 100-degree heat. The smell of urine and feces fills the block. For more than five weeks, as many as 200 people had occupied the site to demand ICE’s immediate abolition. They’re gone now, but a community is left reeling. Thirty-eight days of government-sanctioned anarchy will do that.
A mob surrounded ICE’s office in Southwest Portland June 19. They barricaded the exits and blocked the driveway. They sent “guards” to patrol the doors, trapping workers inside. At night they laid on the street, stopping traffic at a critical junction near a hospital. Police stayed away. “At this time I am denying your request for additional resources,” the Portland Police Bureau’s deputy chief, Robert Day, wrote to federal officers pleading for help. Hours later, the remaining ICE workers were finally evacuated by a small federal police team. The facility shut down for more than a week.
Signs called ICE employees “Nazis” and “white supremacists.” Others accused them of running a “concentration camp,” and demanded open borders and prosecution of ICE agents. Along a wall, vandals wrote the names of ICE staff, encouraging others to publish their private information online.
Federal workers were defenseless. An ICE officer, who asked that his name not be published, told me one of his colleagues was trailed in a car and confronted when he went to pick up his daughter from summer camp. Later people showed up at his house. Another had his name and photo plastered on flyers outside his home accusing him of being part of the “Gestapo.”
Where were the police? Ordered away by Democratic Mayor Ted Wheeler, who doubles as police commissioner. “I do not want the @PortlandPolice to be engaged or sucked into a conflict, particularly from a federal agency that I believe is on the wrong track,” he tweeted. “If [ICE is] looking for a bailout from this mayor, they are looking in the wrong place.”
The mob set up camp behind the building, where they harassed journalists and banned photography. The open-borders advocates also erected an 8-foot wall around their site. I walked through and saw young children, including infants, in squalid conditions and 90-degree heat. Every American flag was defaced. Anarchist and communist flags were unsoiled.
Stuart Lindquist, the ICE facility’s 79-year-old landlord, visited his property on June 21. “The political powers in the city of Portland have stopped the police from doing what they normally would do,” he told me. When he attempted to drive into the parking lot, occupiers swarmed and pounded his windows. In the commotion, Mr. Lindquist’s car struck someone in the mob, who wasn’t injured. His home address later appeared online, and he says the harassment hasn’t stopped.
On June 28 federal police mobilized from out of state finally moved to reopen the office. They arrested a handful of people for refusing to leave the ICE office’s front, but the rest retreated to the camp and focused their vitriol on the officers. They repeatedly called a black officer “traitor” and “house n—.” They shouted that they knew where the officers lived, and published more addresses online.
The same day Mayor Wheeler again pledged not to intervene. In a statement, he whitewashed the lawless behavior: “I join those outraged by ICE actions separating parents from their children, and support peaceful protest to give voice to our collective moral conscience.”
The Hakes family, which owns the Happy Camper food cart across the street from ICE’s office, responded to the statement with incredulity.