At least five officers with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) attempted to enter the Occupy ICE PDX encampment in Southwest Portland this afternoon and clear the space, according to a number of members of the group.
Jacob Bureros, a spokesperson for the Occupy ICE demonstration, said that at least one person was arrested after officers attempted to "tear down" the camp. KBOO's reporting two arrests.
It's now been more than a week since officers cleared the portion of the protest camp that had set up on federal property—the driveway of a US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) office. Protesters have not attempted to re-occupy that federal space (which is now surrounded by a giant metal fence), and instead have remained on a strip of land that borders the ICE facility. That piece of land is owned by TriMet.
On Friday, TriMet spokesperson Roberta Altstadt said TriMet has "not initiated any action to clear the camp."
A video taken by Occupy ICE PDX spokesperson Lilith Sinclair around 12:30 pm today shows federal officers interacting with demonstrators camped out the TriMet property. It appears the officers tried to enter the camp from the back entrance (which the group calls "bottom camp"). Officers also appear to shoot several pepper balls (non-lethal bullets filled with pepper spray) at the feet of the protesters.
Sinclair covers her face with a shirt, telling the camera, "something has just been sprayed."
Here's that video:
Robert Sperling, a spokesperson for DHS, said he hasn't heard about this encounter. Sperling tells the Mercury that federal officers aren't confronting any protesters unless they're on federal property. This video seems to tell a different story.
In an interview with the Mercury, Sinclair says the afternoon's incident "wasn't a full-force attempt to raid our camp."
"But it speaks volumes about what officers are willing to do," she says. Sinclair points to recent arrests at Occupy ICE camps in San Francisco and Grand Rapids—a sign that the local DHS team may start doing the same. Sinclair believes Occupy ICE arrests are simply a distraction from the main reason these protest camps popped up in the first place.
"We are here for not other reason than to be a voice for the families being abhorrently torn apart," she says. "Our focus is unwavering."