UPDATE (9:15 p.m. PST) Police arrested six protesters Wednesday after a group gathered outside the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement building in Portland to block a bus from leaving the facility.
The bus transports people arrested by ICE to the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, Washington, where they are processed for deportation.
“The bus is trying to leave with people on it, and we’re blocking that bus from leaving and going to Tacoma,” said Kari Koch with End Deportations Now, a group that opposes deportations.
Despite the protest, the bus pulled out of the gated parking lot around 6:30 p.m. along with dozens of ICE employees in their vehicles. They were stuck at work because of the protest.
Ethan Harrison, another protester, said the group wanted to take a direct action against ICE.
“The purpose is to not just say ‘sanctuary’ but to make actual moves with our bodies, with our time, to prevent people from being detained, to prevent people from being deported,” Harrison said.
Portland and other sanctuary cities have increasingly become areas of conflict between activists and federal agents who work with ICE. At the same time, President Trump has said he wants to increase deportations of people who are in the country illegally.
Portland police responded to the area Wednesday. But the Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Protective Service appeared to be in charge of the scene.
Robert Sperling, a spokesman with the Federal Protective Service said the six were arrested “for failure to comply to verbal warnings and blocking the federal facility.”
He said all six people arrested were cited and released.
Five protesters were connected with duct tape and blocked the entrance into the ICE office for several hours. Portland Police say the protest left some drivers waiting in their cars for more than an hour and a half.
As the crowd chanted, DHS officers covered the protesters’ faces with tan hoods and placed ear protection on them as they were disconnected from one another. After the protesters were separated, the hoods and earmuffs were removed.
From there, the detained protesters were led or carried to a white police van down the block. Portland Police said it made a separate arrest unrelated to the protest.
In a statement, Portland police said the use of hoods and ear protection was because “specially trained officers were required to use tools that caused sparks (to remove the protesters). In order to protect protesters from the sparks, fire retardant hoods were placed on the protesters.”
The statement said medical personnel were also standing by as the officers worked to detach people from one another.
A spokeswoman for ICE said in a statement that it “fully respects the rights of all people to voice their opinion without interference — in ways that do not compromise public safety or security.”