CENTENNIAL — Dozens of law enforcement officers, many dressed in full tactical gear, have arrived to break up a protest at ICE’s Colorado headquarters here just south of Denver.
Demonstrators who support abolishing the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency began blockading the two entrances to the ICE field office around 11 a.m. in a protest against family separation and other alleged mistreatment of undocumented people.
As of 7:30 p.m., police had hauled off all eight people who made up the two blockades.
Some of the roughly 40 protestors who remained on scene at that point planned to continue at the encampment outside the field office, while others vowed to go support the blockaders at the Arapahoe County jail, according to an organizer. The blockades included three people who did not give their full names, plus Lee Pedersen, Theo Spain, Colin Moore, Richard Folsom and Julie Bañuelos.
Those who participated in the blockades were not effective in blocking access to the building, however, as police escorted cars out during the afternoon, across the grass next to the parking lot.
A few of their fellow protestors have been camped outside the ICE headquarters since Sunday evening.
By bullhorn and paper handouts, police throughout Thursday afternoon threatened arrests and gave periodic warnings that blocking the two entrances was illegal.
“Don’t say we didn’t tell ya,” says officer handing these sheets out to protestors. pic.twitter.com/Is0Wv1nBwV
— Alex Burness (@alex_burness) August 2, 2018
Then, just after 5 p.m., a group of officers about equal in number to the protestors showed up and marched in unison, slowly advancing on demonstrators who had taken to the streets and sidewalks, moving some of them out of the way.
Having earlier linked themselves by their arms with PVC pipes, the blockades formed in front of two separate entrances to the ICE headquarters. In two groups of four, the protesters knew they could be arrested and were comfortable with the potential outcome, said Ana Rodriguez, an organizer with the Denver-based Colorado People’s Alliance.
No one organization is behind this demonstration, said a spokeswoman named Jen Piper. Rather, she said, it’s a diverse group of concerned citizens and groups, including the People’s Alliance, who together call themselves Abolish ICE Denver.
“We’re sick and tired of ICE separating our families and deporting our people,” Rodriguez said. “It’s not just happening at the border — that’s a crisis that really just let the rest of the American people know what’s going on.”
Families have been separated for decades, she said.
“Those decisions are made here at the Denver field office and that’s why we’re here shutting them down, telling them they can’t separate another family,” Rodriguez said. “We’re gonna be here until they get rid of us. We’ll be here until they stop separating families.”
Police draped sheets over the eight individuals creating the blockades, making it difficult for the protestors, members of the press, and other onlooking citizens to observe what they were doing. However, one officer approached the blockade with a hand saw, which could be used to break the pipes connecting the people together.
Several protestors yelled in the officers’ faces as authorities worked to break up the blockade behind the draped sheet.
Even before the large late afternoon police response, myriad officers, including some with Homeland Security and others in military-style get-up, had been keeping close watch.
Some surveyed the scene from nearby rooftops as a chopper hovered overhead.