People's Police Report
Shootings & deaths
Portland Police Collaborate with ICE, No Matter What the Feds Claim
The intersection of immigration and the City of Portland continues to be problematic. After a large June 17 Father's Day Rally at the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) building at 4310 SW Macadam, an ad-hoc group began a camp there with the goal of abolishing ICE. The camp built a non-violent community opposing the recent uptick in immigrant families in the US being separated. ICE uses the building as both a place for known undocumented people to do check-ins and a holding center for detained people who then are bused to the NW Detention Center in Tacoma, from which most are deported. Quickly the Macadam facility was shut down and Occupy ICE PDX was able to stop ICE from using the building for about two weeks. Activists made a list of demands, including abolishing ICE, barring PPB from helping ICE, and getting Portland out of the Joint Terrorism Task Force (see article). Many other cities saw Occupy ICE movements spring up inspired by Portland's lead.
Mayor Ted Wheeler responded to requests to sweep the growing Occupy ICE PDX camp next to the ICE facility with a tweet: "The policy being enacted by the federal government around the separation of very small children from their parents is an abomination. I want to be very clear I do not want the Portland Police to be engaged or sucked into a conflict, particularly from a federal agency that I believe is on the wrong track...." However, the PPB helped federal officers clear the driveway on June 28 by blocking off traffic. Unfortunately, this is within the PPB policy on immigration (PPR #72).
A month later on July 25, Wheeler had the PPB raid the camp for alleged health and safety reasons. Even though the occupation was safe, drug-free and regularly had children of all ages present, media jumped on reports of piles of needles, human excrement and other exaggerated information. With only 24 hours notification of raids, campers were not given enough time to do a cleanup.
To many activists, the Mayor's announcement that the camp would be swept disproved claims of Portland being a "sanctuary city" where local police don't cooperate in immigration enforcement. In spite of his denials, prosecutor Rod Underhill's office has shared information about undocumented defendants with ICE, and Oregon prison officials regularly share information with the agency. Springfield, Oregon has cancelled its ICE contracts for offices and private detention centers, as have Sacramento County, CA, Alexandria, VA and Williamson County, TX (Nation Magazine, July 2). No moves in that direction are brewing at a state level in Oregon. However, anti-immigrant groups have forced Oregon's law preventing police-immigration cooperation onto the November ballot.
Days after the sweep, a union of ICE workers served the City with a cease and desist letter, claiming they were being discriminated against in violation of the 14th Amendment because of what they do for a living. Apparently, they do not understand the meaning of irony. Wheeler and Chief Danielle Outlaw pointed out the numerous occasions in which the PPB responded to emergency calls during the occupation.
Portland Copwatch is a grassroots, volunteer organization promoting police accountability through citizen action.