By BROOKE SNAVELY
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY NEWS
Local leaders tried through various channels to influence the detention of two men arrested by ICE that sparked yesterday’s 10-hour protest about racial injustice.
Central Oregon Daily News spoke with Deschutes County’s DA and a city councilor about their efforts to negotiate with federal police for a peaceful resolution.
It began about noon when word spread that two local men had been taken into custody and placed in unmarked buses.
Within a few hours, a crowd of more than 250 people surrounded the buses preventing them from leaving.
“People were saying ‘do something, do something.’ But first I had to gather facts,” said John Hummel, Deschutes County District Attorney.
Hummel spoke to local police and federal agents to understand it was a federal operation and that local police did not support or collaborate.
In an effort to defuse tensions, he offered to answer protestors’ questions about the charges against the detainees, but ICE refused to share the information.
At that point, Hummel, Bend Mayor Sally Russell, and Oregon Gov. Kate Brown began asking their Homeland Security contacts for help.
“Everyone we spoke to said ‘That decision is being made at a higher level.’ We got very high up in the chain and that person told us ‘Look, the decision is being made at the highest level of government.’ We said how high? They said ‘The highest level of government.’ I took that to mean Chad Wolf, Attorney General Barr and/or president of the United States.”
Today, Brown tweeted she was “appalled by the callous actions of the Trump administration in Bend to target immigrant communities and forcefully disperse a crowd of concerned community members and clergy who, for hours, held the line against injustice.”
Bend City Councilor Barb Campbell took an entirely different approach: She parked her personal vehicle immediately behind one of the ICE buses to prevent it from leaving and joined the protest.
Another city councilor, Gena Goodman-Campbell, shuttled information back and forth between police and protestors in an effort to keep everyone informed.
“I want people to know that their representatives, at least one of them, speaking for myself, that I am here and I understand just how upset people are,” Barb Campbell said.
Today Campbell is getting mixed reactions from constituents on her involvement in the protest.
“Seems to be far more appreciative of my efforts; appreciative that I am out on the streets with the people. There are certainly people who are not happy, telling me they can’t wait until 2022 so they can vote me out,” she said.
Hummel said it became apparent ICE and DHS were not interested in working with state or local officials to try to broker a peaceful resolution to the standoff.
“They wanted a violent response. Their goal was a violent response. Their goal was to send in the federal troops from Seattle and Portland. That was their end game and that is what disgusted me about this.”
Hummel said he’s not received any reports of crimes committed by federal agents or protesters.
He encourages anyone who believes their rights were denied to file a report with local police for review.