Police Chief Outlaw: ‘We had to get ahead of it before it spiraled out of control’
PORTLAND, Ore. – Portland Police Chief Danielle Outlaw spoke Wednesday morning after officers entered the Occupy ICE camp hours earlier and evicted the remaining demonstrators.
Outlaw said only about 12 protesters remained at the camp near the ICE facility in Southwest Portland. Officers did not arrest or cite anyone.
Outlaw believes the eviction notices posted Monday gave campers a chance to leave and credits the communication between law enforcement and the protesters as the key to the peaceful eviction.
The Portland Police Bureau determined last week that it was time to do something about the camp, Outlaw said. The bureau had received 76 calls for service to the camp, 41 of which required an officer response. There were also at least 13 online complaints about the conditions at the camp or behaviors of the campers.
Outlaw said she was also concerned about the roads the campers were blocking. They’re near several medical facilities and in some cases interfered with getting patients the medical care they needed quickly.
When Outlaw brought her concerns to Mayor Ted Wheeler, he agreed it was time to evict the demonstrators.
“We knew we had to get ahead of it before it spiraled out of control,” Outlaw said while addressing the media.
When police entered the camp Wednesday morning, they found several fire hazard and biohazard concerns including needles, feces and nails.
“There’s clearly unsafe conditions in the camp. The longer they persist, the harder it is to clean them up in the end,” Outlaw said.
Cleanup at the camp will begin around 8 a.m. Outlaw says the cleanup work will be contracted out by the individual owners of the properties.
During the cleanup, the following roads were closed until 11:30 a.m. Wednesday:
- Southwest Bancroft Street is closed between Southwest Macadam Avenue and Southwest Bond Avenue
- Southwest Moody Avenue is closed between Southwest Bancroft Street and Southwest Lowell Street
- Southwest Bond Avenue is closed at Southwest Bancroft Street
Officers will assist people traveling through the area.
Outlaw said the police bureau is investigating a reported incident of an officer using a baton to break up some sort of altercation.
The protesters first set up camp around June 17 at the ICE facility. They were protesting the Trump administration’s “zero-tolerance policy” and family separation at the U.S.-Mexico border.