- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 13, 2020

Protesters in Oregon blocked two ICE buses that were holding undocumented immigrants, and at one point tried to break in to free them, forcing federal agents to mount a rescue mission Wednesday night.

Hundreds of protesters forced a nearly 12-hour standoff, demanding the deportation officers produce a warrant to justify the arrests. Some activists attempted to deflate the bus tires or empty oil from the engine, according to Homeland Security documents detailing the confrontation.

Customs and Border Protection agents, who were stationed several hours away in Portland to deal with ongoing riots there, were quickly deployed to Bend, the site of the anti-ICE action.

CBP and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents used tear gas to clear away demonstrators, then helped four ICE personnel and the two migrants evacuate. Even as they were doing so, demonstrators pulled on the chains connected to the handcuffs the migrants were wearing, leaving them with scrapes on their hands.

None of the ICE personnel were injured.

ICE said the two migrants they picked up both had histories of “criminal violent behavior” which made them valid targets for arrest.

Local officials insisted they weren’t helping the feds, and Bend police stood by, only monitoring the confrontation.

“To be clear, in no way do I support ICE,” said Bend Mayor Sally Russell — though she did acknowledge both men arrested had warrants justifying the arrests, and she discounted rumors of an immigration “sweep.”

Some local officials joined the protesters. One of those, Deschutes County District Attorney John Hummel, took to Twitter to complain about what he saw.

“Federal troops stormed the buses in full tactical gear,” he tweeted. “I’ve never been so disgusted by my government and so proud of my community.”

He did not comment on the protesters’ apparent attempts to break into the bus.

“The law enforcement activity in Bend, Oregon is part of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s mission to arrest criminal aliens presenting a danger to public safety and take them off the street,” ICE said in a statement.

The agency added: “While ICE respects the rights of people to voice their opinion peacefully, that does not include illegally interfering with their federal law enforcement duties. ICE will take all necessary measures to ensure the safety of its officers and detainees, and will vigorously pursue prosecution against anyone who puts them in harm’s way.”

The protests eventually broke up after CBP and ICE evacuated the personnel, and they were able to go back and retrieve the buses later.

The confrontation comes even as riots still rage nightly in Portland, where demonstrators first targeted federal officers and have now turned their ire on local police.

Wednesday night saw renewed violence in downtown Portland, with rioters igniting fires, pelting officers with eggs, bottles, fist-sized rocks and cans of paint, and launching commercial-grade fireworks at the fence protecting the federal courthouse from the protests.

Oregon State Police and Portland Police declared a riot and had to use tear gas to disperse the crowd.

Police are now protecting the federal courthouse in Portland under a deal struck by acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad F. Wolf and Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, who agreed to deploy state police if the federal officers and agents would lower their presence.

In Bend, none of the local or state authorities moved to help the ICE officers.

Bend police said they had been alerted ICE would be conducting some operation but weren’t told the details.

Luke Richter, president of Central Oregon Peacekeepers and the first to step in front of the buses, said they had a right to intervene.

“If they’re going to take people from a sanctuary city, they need to have proper documentation of that. We have not seen any warrants for their arrest,” he told KTVZ.

Mr. Richter livestreamed his confrontation with the buses. During his webcast, he named the hotel where he said the ICE officers stayed and said that hotel “needs to be canceled.”

A legal group filed an emergency request in federal court to demand access to the migrants at the scene, but the court took no action before the end of the standoff.

• Stephen Dinan can be reached at sdinan@washingtontimes.com.

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