In a hasty press conference, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler Monday asked the protesters occupying the alley behind a federal immigration and customs enforcement office to leave.
“Some demonstrators have already begun to leave this afternoon. I would encourage others in the occupy camp to peacefully disengage,” he said.
Wheeler said the camp will be “posted” later Monday.
The protesters have set up tents and wooden structures on the Willamette Shore Trolley right-of-way, a strip of land which belongs to TriMet, and on smaller adjacent tracts of private and city-owned property.
The mayor’s staff provided OPB with a copy of the notice that will be posted at the camp by Portland Police officers and staff with the Rapid Response Bio Clean company.
It notifies the protesters that they are criminally trespassing and violating city code that prohibits camping on public property, and they need to leave.
“All persons camping at the identified locations are advised to gather their belongings and move elsewhere before July 24, 2018,” a copy of the notice reads.
“Persons who have not vacated any campsite will be subject to citation or arrest by police.”
The occupation is a response to the president’s policy of separating parents and children caught while trying to cross the border. Protesters have camped at the site for five weeks.
Shortly after the occupation began, Wheeler said in a series of social media posts that it appeared peaceful and he did not want the Portland Police to be sucked into a conflict due to “a federal agency that I believe is on the wrong track.”
Wheeler said city police officers would not engage with the protesters unless urgent life safety issues required it. The ICE office closed for a week until federal security cleared protesters from the sidewalk in front of the building and erected a new fence.
Asked what prompted his change in position, Wheeler said the camp is hurting local businesses and making it hard for people to reach medical facilities in the South Waterfront.
“The camp itself, with the wooden structures, that is not a sustainable situation,” he said Monday.
Wheeler noted that one faction of the protesters had already announced their decision to leave earlier in the day.
Commissioner Chloe Eudaly, who’s been a key point of contact between the city and the occupiers, noted that the camp had split into two factions: One that calls itself #abolishICEPDX, while the other is #OccupyICEPDX.
In the press release, the #abolishICEPDX group said it was leaving due to a disagreement over tactics with the remaining occupiers.
One key issue: complaints that the leadership of the occupation was, in effect, too white.
“As we build relationships with and follow the leadership of frontline immigrant communities, we must also recognize that due to the demographic makeup of Portland as a predominantly white city and the nature of confronting armed federal forces at an ICE facility, the community at camp is currently not representative of the Black and Brown immigrant communities,” they wrote.
Multiple organized groups in Oregon represent the state’s sizeable immigrant and refugee populations, but they largely avoided engaging with the occupation outside the ICE facility.
A record 12 percent of Oregonians, or roughly 473,700 people, identified as Hispanic or Latino, according to the latest American Community Survey estimates.