Bodies On the Gears: Occupying ICE

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The encampment. Photo by Dirk VanderHart/OPB

Bearing signs declaring "Kick Out ICE" and “Will Trade Racists for Refugees,” Portland, Oregon protesters held a vigil Sunday at a local ICE facility to demand an end to Trump's so-called zero-tolerance policy against immigrant families - and then decided to stay. The action, originally organized by Democratic Socialists, Direct Action Alliance and other activist groups, quickly morphed into an occupation promoted on social media with the hashtag #OccupyICEPDX. By Wednesday, an encampment around the nondescript building, which serves as a temporary detention center, had grown to 30 tents, kitchen, library, medical tent, stashes of food and water, and visiting ice cream truck offering freebies: "The only ice we like comes in waffle cones."

The action in Portland, a sanctuary city where officials have said they won't help ICE enforcement efforts, has reportedly sparked interest in occupations elsewhere, and police responded cautiously. Monday, protesters standing with locked arms blocked vehicles from coming or going, blockading ICE officers inside and prompting riot-gear-swathed Homeland Security cops to plead with them for “reasonable accommodation." On Wednesday, ICE closed the facility, announcing "operations at this location have been temporarily halted due to security concerns." At that point, it was empty: the ICE employees had already been escorted out, but not before clueless police urged protesters to allow them "to go home to their families." We're guessing the Gestapo didn't have much sense of irony either.

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The original vigil that led to the occupation

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