Alex Zielinski

Portland Police interrupted an Occupy ICE PDX press conference this evening to start notifying the protest camp's occupants that they need to clear out by tomorrow—or face arrest.

We are going to maintain this encampment," said camp spokesperson Jacob Bureros during the 8:30 conference. "We are going to hold our ground."

Minutes later, police officers entered the camp and began hammering signs into the ground informing occupiers of the unexpected decision made by Mayor Ted Wheeler to clear the camp. The notices, printed on neon green paper, were akin to the alerts posted at homeless campsites before the police make a sweep.

The crimes cited in the notice are certainly familiar: Criminal trespassing, erecting a structure in a public right-of-way, and camping in a public right-of-way. If the campers do not evacuate the area by July 24, the notice warns, they will be subject to citation or arrest by the Portland Police Bureau (PPB). This means officers could start issuing citations as soon as midnight on July 24*.

Wheeler announced the city's plans to clear the 5-week-old protest camp this afternoon, citing the dangers of wooden structures and the fact that the left-wing camp attracted alt-right protesters last Friday. This announcement came weeks after Wheeler said he didn't want Portland police to get involved in the protest, since he shared the protester's opposition to the actions of US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). He hasn't spoken publicly about the camp since making those remarks in June. It's still unclear why, exactly, Wheeler decided to change course today.

Comissioner Chloe Eudaly, the city official who's been the most engaged with the camp since its initiation, joined Wheeler in asking the camp's protesters to pack up. Eudaly's support of Wheeler came as a surprise to longtime camp participants who originally saw an ally in Eudaly.

"We didn't anticipate this coming from the city," said Bureros. "But we know not to really count on the words that they give us."

*Correction: A previous version of this post said protesters were given three hours to evacuate the camp. The mayor's office has since clarified that this notice was meant to give protesters until midnight on July 24 to leave.