Protesters in Louisville, Kentucky were outraged Monday after police swiftly removed an encampment they had set up outside the city’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) facility as part of the national #OccupyICE movement.
Demonstrators had arrived at ICE’s offices early on Monday morning, setting up tents, erecting barricades to block law enforcement vehicles from entering the property, and placing toys in the driveway to symbolize the thousands of children who have been separated from their families by ICE under President Donald Trump’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy.
The Louisville Metro Police Department (LMPD) sent officers to the scene immediately, and the protesters had been on the property for just over two hours when Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officers arrived to force them to leave.
Protesters noted that Fischer had spoken out on Saturday against the Trump administration’s treatment of immigrant communities, calling Louisville a “welcoming” and “compassionate” city.
DHS removed the protesters days after officers in Portland, Oregon had done the same to the country’s original #OccupyICE protest. The encampment established on June 17 kept ICE’s facilities in Portland closed for more than a week.
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In Wichita, Kansas on Monday, protesters reported that police had begun removing their encampment from the entrance to the ICE office where they had been protesting.
The forced removals come as the Trump administration has taken notice of the movement to abolish ICE, which has gained traction in Congress as well as among progressive candidates like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in New York’s 14th congressional district and in a number of cities.
Days after Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) announced he would introduce legislation to abolish ICE, President Donald Trump told Fox News that without the 15-year-old agency enforcing his immigration policy, “you’re going to be afraid to walk out of your house,” and tweeted, “Crime would be rampant and uncontrollable!”
Some political commentators have dismissed the #AbolishICE movement as one that plays into Trump’s caricature of Democrats and the left, with CNN‘s Julian Zelizer writing, “a call to abolish anything makes it sound as if the proponents want the entire [immigration] system to go away.”
The Daily Kos‘s Stephen Wolf disagreed on Twitter, reminding critics that ICE’s aggressive raids and arrests of immigrants who have no criminal backgrounds—and at least one whose green card application was underway—is connected with Trump’s overall agenda regarding the oppression of immigrant and Latino communities.