Eight protesters were arrested Wednesday morning as they blocked a van from leaving a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement facility in Southwest Portland.
A video shows a band of protesters linked at the arms, blocking the van from exiting the facility. It also shows several of them being detained by federal officers, who deployed pepper balls at close range, as well as pepper spray.
One detained protester ran away. Robert Sperling, a Federal Protective Service spokesman, said officers went after that protester but didn’t know whether they were among the eight arrested.
The federal agency said the eight were arrested on allegations including but not limited to failure to comply and obstruction. Federal officers warned the protesters to leave the driveway multiple times, the agency said in a statement.
Stuart Tanquist, a protester who recorded the arrests, said a group of 8 to 12 people linked arms once they saw what he described as a bus holding detainees attempting to leave the front gate.
Carissa Cutrell, an ICE spokeswoman, said no detainees were aboard the bus that was assisting ICE with security services.
Within five minutes of the line forming on the sidewalk, DHS officials were spraying the group with pepper balls, tackling people to the ground and making arrests, Tanquist said.
“This is what state oppression looks like,” Tanquist said.
Tony Salas, who was standing near the group of protesters who linked arms, showed a 2-inch-wide welt on his stomach from a pepper ball. He estimated about 70 pepper balls were deployed at short range.
Sperling, the Federal Protective Service spokesman, said officers were hit with an unknown liquid and that a variety of objects were also thrown at them. Boards with nails were thrown on the ground — akin to an “ad-hoc tire spike,” he said.
Sperling said an officer also deployed an electronic control device — casually known as a Taser — on one protester.
Protesters have been camped out near the federal facility since June 17 and have said they plan to continue until the Portland ICE office is permanently closed.
The building appeared operational Wednesday.
The spate of arrests is the second this week at the ICE facility. Three protesters were arrested Monday.