Portland and its mayor are under heavy legal fire and suffering a wave of bad publicity because police, critics allege, have failed to protect federal immigration employees from angry anti-Trump leftists known as Occupy ICE.
A letter from the union representing workers for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), sent on July 30 to Portland mayor Ted Wheeler (shown), accused him of ordering the police to stand down when called for help. The mayor stated that is untrue.
Whoever is right, federal workers felt threatened.
The attorney for the ICE Council, Sean Riddell, told the mayor that a policy forbidding police protection for the federal workers violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution’s 14th Amendment.
“Your policy of not providing police services to employees of ICE creates a class of people based upon their source of income,” the letter said, adding that the policy has “created a zone of terror and lawlessness.”
Riddell also warned the mayor that failure to terminate the policy would end in federal litigation.
“I am compelled to respond to your inaccurate and inflammatory letter dated July 30, in which you claim that we have a ‘policy of not responding to calls for police services from ICE employees. No such policy exists,” he wrote.
As well, continued Wheeler, “the Portland Police Bureau does not police based on the content of speech. In this case, I have consistently stated that I did not want the Portland Police Bureau to be engaged or sucked into a conflict for the purpose of securing federal property that houses a federal agency with their own federal police force.”
Wheeler also claimed the lawyer admitted that police did answer calls:
In fact, when a Portland city attorney contacted you to discuss your claims, you made clear that your letter did not contend that PPB failed to respond to any 911 call for emergency services. Portland Police did respond to various calls for service placed by FPS and ICE employees when there were imminent life safety threats. In discussions with our attorney you were unable to make any substantive claim, instead stating that you “have unconfirmed reports from sources that I am not at liberty to disclose that assert the City of Portland did not respond to 911 calls.”
ICE Union boss Chris Crane said federal police are not stationed in the building to protect ICE employees. “I have no idea what the mayor is talking about,” he told the Washington Times. “We have a handful of employees in the building, which also includes non-law enforcement staff. Over a hundred federal officers had to travel in from other areas to take control and make the facility safe.”
“While the mayor ordered Portland Police not to respond, and days went by waiting for federal reinforcements to arrive, our employees were trapped in the building by an angry mob,” he added. “We lost control of the building for almost two weeks before federal officers could be brought in to take the building back.”
Employees Accuse Occupy ICE
Wheeler would be more believable if he hadn’t encouraged Occupy ICE.
Wrote Wheeler in his answer to the ICE lawyer, “I stand with those who are outraged by the forced separation of parents from their children, families who in many cases are fleeing oppression in other countries.”
As the Willamette Weekly reported, “Protesters surrounded the ICE building beginning June 17, after news reports” about President Trump’s policy, which leftists hysterically allege is “separating families at the border” for no ostensible reason. “The protesters briefly shut down the ICE building by blocking the entrances and exits, harassing employees as they arrived and attempted to leave. The occupation inspired similar protests nationwide.” The mob eventually set up camp, the Willamette Weekly reported, and then began threatening ICE employees.
A local ICE officer, who spoke to WW [the Willamette Weekly] only on the condition of anonymity, says two agency employees called Portland police June 19, when they were blocked from leaving the building in their vehicles.
One of those employees told Portland police that protesters followed his truck as he went to pick up his daughter from summer camp and harassed him in the parking lot.
He also says protesters showed up at his Portland apartment building a few hours later. Again, he called police, but says no officer responded.
“This area became like a Wild West,” the local immigration officer [told] WW.
That man seems to be the same person the Times described as a disabled Marine veteran:
He managed to get around the blockade to pick up his daughter but only after his car was scratched and tires slashed. He then was followed to the camp.
The veteran’s initial calls for police assistance were ignored. He was allowed to make a report on the damage to his vehicle, but after he called to report being followed, police told him they were staying out of the matter, the ICE source told The Washington Times.
Portland’s deputy police chief, WW also reported, flatly stated that his forces wouldn’t help the frightened federal workers. On June 19, he e-mailed an answer “to a formal request for assistance from the Federal Protective Service [FPS].”
At this time I am denying your request for additional resources from PPB. I recognize this is a fluid situation that will need continuous monitoring. I am willing to revisit this inquiry after you have exhausted all alternative options besides arrests and maximized the use of FPS resources. We will respond to [calls] for assistance if your officers are assaulted and need us to facilitate a safe exit from the conflict.
Local and federal authorities eventually disbanded the mob, which left behind, according to KATU TV, a major “biohazard” of used needles and human feces. Private contractors cleaned up the mess.
The protest in Portland was one of many across the nation, undoubtedly encouraged by the radical politicians, including possible presidential hopeful Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, who wants ICE to be abolished.
Indeed, after the wave of protests, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the democratic socialist who will represent New York’s 14th District after the next election, called for protesters to shut down airports and ICE offices until the agency is shut down.
Photo: U.S. Department of Labor / Wikimedia Commons