Occupy ICE PDX held a “Day of Action Against ICE” rally outside of the Southwest Portland Immigration and Customs Enforcement facility on Tuesday, July 17. The rally’s Facebook event page said, “the #OccupyICE movement began with one tent and a few sleeping bags. Within two days, Portlanders from every walk of life had successfully forced the shutdown of the local ICE detention facility.” It declared, “On July 17th, one month after the Portland rally and movement, we are calling for a national day of action against ICE.”
The rally began at 5 p.m. with a small group of people amassing in the campground that has recently been established on the property of Portland’s local ICE office. Several protesters took turns utilizing a loudspeaker to sing songs like “Imagine” by John Lennon while taking time to bellow out chants such as “No ICE! No KKK! No Fascist U.S.A.!”, “No hate! No Fear! Immigrants are welcome here!” and “Chinga la Migra,” which roughly translates to “fuck immigration.”
Erin Lipanovich, a local community leader, was present for the rally and criticized the immigration policies of the Trump administration, saying, “A lot of these kids that can’t be reunited with their parents will end up in foster care,” claiming that will “affect these children both mentally and emotionally.” Kevin Grigsby, another protester in attendance, said “I’m here because the whole situation disgusts me.” According to a camper who wished to be identified as Mogli, the purpose of the rally was “to show continued support for the efforts of the camp and to boost morale for the people who have been here for nearly a month.”
Around 7:30 p.m., the group decapitated a Trump piñata that had been hanging in camp with an improvised guillotine. The faux execution was met with a series of cheers and jeers from the crowd that, at that point, had increased to approximately 200 people. At 8 p.m., the group started playing music, forming a dance party in the streets outside of the ICE facility. Department of Homeland Security officers responded by forming a police line that included several vehicles and completely closing off Bancroft Ave. to traffic.
Through the night, many protesters continued to blast music and dance to the flashing police lights, while others dragged living room furniture out of the camp and onto the front line. Many members of the crowd donned masks, including gas masks, bandana face wraps and even a goat mask. The dance party continued without incident until the group held their nightly vigil for the detained children at midnight.
The camp began forming on June 17 to form a protest against the separation of immigrant children from their parents, the result of recent Trump administration “zero tolerance” policies surrounding immigration. The camp was the first of its kind to take root on official ICE property and sparked a series of other occupations throughout the country, even managing to temporarily shut down operations at the Portland ICE Facility.
Though the occupation had managed to garner support from several Portland-based politicians, including Mayor Ted Wheeler, the encampment was raided and relocated by Department of Homeland Security officers to clear up the entrances to the facility, which resulted in several arrests. More arrests have occurred as the camp continues to exist outside of an official barrier established by DHS.