Dozens of federal agents were deployed in Bend, Ore., late Wednesday after protesters stood for hours to block the path of buses that held two people who had been seized by immigration agents, according to witnesses and videos from the scene.
The federal officers came to the scene of the protest, a hotel parking lot, in helmets and tactical gear, said Barb Campbell, a member of the Bend City Council. Using crowd-control devices such as pepper spray, the officers were able to work their way through the crowd, remove the detainees from one of the buses and take them away, she said.
The effort to block the buses began on Wednesday morning when Luke Richter, president of the activist group Central Oregon Peacekeepers, heard from a friend that officers from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement were operating in the city. He was able to find two unmarked buses and decided to block their path while livestreaming video from the scene.
Others later joined the effort, including Ms. Campbell, who parked her vehicle and set up a lawn chair in front of one of the buses. As the day wore on, hundreds of protesters gathered. Mr. Richter said he was overwhelmed by the response from the community.
“They are not welcome here,” Mr. Richter said of the federal agents.
It was not immediately clear why the men were detained. In a statement,
accused the men of having a “history of criminal violent behavior.”“While ICE respects the rights of people to voice their opinion peacefully, that does not include interfering with their federal law enforcement duties,” the statement said.
Ms. Campbell said that if the men had committed crimes, the city’s Police Department and district attorney could handle it without the involvement of federal officers.
Lawyers from the Portland-based Innovation Law Lab filed a motion in federal court to block the removal of the detainees.
By Mike Baker