Starting from a mass rally and march in opposition to President Trump’s so-called Zero Tolerance Policy on the afternoon of June 17, Portland activists, workers, and students began a full-blown occupation of the detention center by barricading the doors and driveways and setting up camp all around the facility.
By June 19, about a thousand people of all backgrounds and ages, many of whom said this was their first protest event, rallied and increased the size of the occupation. Organizers with Democratic Socialists of America, the International League of Peoples Struggle, the Party for Socialism and Liberation, Portland Assembly, the Poor People’s Campaign, and dozens of others came out in support and camped overnight.
The demands of this #OccupyICEPDX movement transformed from opposition to the Zero Tolerance Policy to a movement to abolish ICE completely, naturalize all residents, free immigrant prisoners and close all immigrant detention centers in the state. Oregon claims to be a sanctuary despite permitting ICE to operate and leasing buildings to ICE. Police forces in the state, including Portland’s (which has known KKK members), collaborate with ICE against our migrant communities.
Each night at 8:30 pm on 4310 SW Macadam Ave the people speak on the issue in an open mic system and hold a candlelight vigil for the people imprisoned inside that building, for those in the Tacoma facility where immigrants are illegally worked at $1/hr for 10 hrs/day for giant corporations, the Sheridan detention center, and all other detention centers around the country.
Activists in the ILPS and PSL have emphasized that these atrocious, racist policies are not a divergence from the norm for the American Empire. They have explained that we must reorder society based on meeting human needs instead of profit and recognize the right of nations to self-determination in order to end both these racist policies against immigrants as well as the wars and austerity that pushes families like that of this author out of our homelands.
A rejection of the Democratic Party is popular within the occupation due to the fact that Mayor Ted Wheeler and Governor Kate Brown have openly permitted ICE’s active presence in Portland and Oregon generally their entire tenures in office. The people are recognizing correctly that only the masses of working people coming together can bring freedom, justice, and liberation, and that the working class must be independent of both the capitalist ruling class Republican and Democratic parties.
Organizers have called on progressive people across the county to take up a similar tactic of occupying and rallying around detention centers in their communities until there is not a single immigrant concentration camp in the country and the Amerikan gestapo is completely abolished.
Yes to refugees and immigrants, no to wars and imperialism! Abolish ICE and free all immigrant prisoners!