A tent encampment erected by protesters to block the entrance of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement headquarters in Portland, Oregon, was dismantled in a pre-dawn move by an army of federal law enforcement officers wearing riot gear and wielding batons.
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More than a hundred federal officers began rousting demonstrators calling themselves #OccupyICEPDX about 5:30 a.m., ripping apart the encampment set up on the front doorstep of the ICE facility earlier this month and prompted its closure for nine days.
At least eight protesters who apparently refused to move from the entrance of the facility were arrested, officials said. One protester was taken into custody at gunpoint and two others were arrested after federal officers used a saw to cut a chain linking them together, according to ABC affiliate KATU-TV in Portland.
The officers began tossing tents, inflatable mattresses and couches on a pile as demonstrators, who were held back by a phalanx of officers wearing riot helmets and carrying batons, screamed obscenities at them.
The protest group #OccupyICEPDX set up the encampment on June 17 and federal officials were forced to close the office for business for nine straight days.
DHS showed up and handed out some flyers… do you want to show support? We need people here! Get here ASAP! #OccupyICEPDX #AbolishICE #EndFamilySeparation pic.twitter.com/xrrMPwOR7K
— Abolish I.C.E PDX (@OccupyICEPDX) June 25, 2018
The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Oregon issued a statement early Thursday saying officers had started a “law enforcement action” to reopen the facility in southwest Portland.
On Monday, officials had posted fliers around the building warning, “It is unlawful under federal law to obstruct the entrances, foyers, lobbies, corridors, offices and/or parking lots of federal facilities.”
U.S. Department of Homeland Security officers cleared protesters from the front of the building and began taking apart tents and piling up belongings that included couches, chairs and inflatable mattresses that were loaded into a U-Haul truck and carried away.
A larger encampment occupying a public bike path alongside the building was being left in place. It was not immediately clear if federal officers would dismantle that encampment, too.
The protesters started camping out at the building to protest the Trump administration’s zero-tolerance policy that separated migrant children from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border.