Hundreds of protesters in Bend, Oregon clashed with ICE agents during a tense 10-hour standoff on Wednesday after they detained two undocumented immigrants in the sanctuary city.
Crowds of people gathered in the city’s Old Mill district on Wednesday afternoon to block two unmarked white buses transporting two men who were taken into custody earlier that morning.
One of the men had been located at a gas station and the other had been pulled over in his car, immigration attorney Micaela Guthrie, who is working with the two detainees, told OPB.
Both were described as ‘long term residents’ of Oregon.
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Protesters clashes with federal agents during an hours-long standoff on Wednesday after they tried to block ICE officials from detaining two undocumented immigrants in Bend, Oregon
Crowds of people gathered at the parking lot of Crane Shed Common on Wednesday afternoon to block two unmarked white buses transporting two men who had been arrested earlier that morning
Protesters stood their ground for hours, demanding authorities release the detainees or provide an arrest warrant
A family member said word of the arrests had spread in the area after one of the detained men, identified only as Marcos, was able to call his wife.
Members of the community banded together after locating the two buses in the parking lot of Crane Shed Commons, where an hours-long protest ensued.
Dramatic video footage of the scene showed protesters swarming the vehicles and blocking their path for hours as they demanded officials release the men or produce an arrest warrant.
The standoff continued late into the night until a team of Border Patrol agents in tactical gear arrived to disperse crowds with pepper spray, KTVZ reported.
Protesters cleared the area by midnight after federal agents emptied the buses and took the two men away, according to OPB.
Bend, located three hours southwest of Portland, is set in Deschutes County, a sanctuary county where local authorities do not enforce immigration law.
Bend Mayor Sally Russell said on Twitter that the arrests were not an immigration sweep and that she had been informed the men had warrants out for their arrest.
As night fell, protesters continued to rally against the ICE operation in the sanctuary city
The clash continued into the late hours of the night, when authorities dispersed crowds with pepper spray
Protesters gathered at a parking lot to block the path of two white buses carrying two undocumented immigrants
‘To be clear, in no way do I support ICE. Nor can our Bend Police Force, because Oregon is a sanctuary state and it is illegal. I am very worried for everyone in our community, and especially our Latinx community,’ Russell said in a tweet.
‘This is a very tough moment. ICE is a Federal agency and frustratingly we have no power over the Executive Branch of our country.’
ICE officials on Thursday said they had been operating on a mission to ‘arrest criminal aliens presenting a danger to public safety and take them off the street.’
The two men had a history of criminal violent behavior, according to authorities.
‘While ICE respects the people to voice their opinion peacefully, that does not include illegally interfering with their federal enforcement duties,’ the agency said in a statement.
‘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.’
Guthrie said the two men had lived in central Oregon for almost a decade. Details of their alleged crimes were not released.
Bend Police Chief Mike Krantz said officers had responded to a call from a federal official seeking help with the people blocking their path earlier that afternoon.
One woman was seen cleaning off one of the buses after it was vandalized by one of the participants
Immigration attorney Micaela Guthrie, who is working with the two detainees, said the men were long term residents of Oregon
The Bend Police Department confirmed they had been called to the scene to help control crowds, but were not involved in the ICE operation
ICE officials said the two men had warrants out for their arrest and had a history of ‘criminal violent behavior’
In a statement posted on Twitter around midnight, Krantz confirmed officers arrived to help keep the peace and were not involved in the ICE operation.
‘We do not use funds or personnel or equipment to enforce federal immigration laws or to detain people based on immigration status. This is consistent with Oregon Law and Department policies,’ Krantz said.
‘We are on scene to allow free speech and a peaceful area to assemble and to provide life safety support. We are not there in an assisting role with ICE.’
Portland-based nonprofit Innovation Law Lab has asked a federal court to keep ICE from taking the men out of central Oregon, the ACLU announced Wednesday night.