This story was originally published by our sister paper, The Portland Mercury.
The union representing US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) employees is asking for a criminal investigation into how Mayor Ted Wheeler addressed Portland's Occupy ICE protests. In letters first published by the Portland Tribune, union lawyer Sean Riddell asks both the Oregon Department of Justice and the US Department of Justice to investigate Wheeler for using his "police powers to harm those he believes possess alternative political beliefs."
Riddell's referring to when Wheeler said he wouldn't be directing Portland police officers to respond to calls at Portland's ICE headquarters—where ICE protesters were holding a rally— "unless lives are in danger."
Riddell alleges that the ICE protest grew after that declaration, and cites protesters blocking employees from leaving their work or accessing their cars.
"The negative impact of Mr. Wheeler's actions on the employees of ICE, local merchants, owners of the surrounding buildings and residents is well documented and undisputed," writes Riddell.
At the time, Wheeler said would defer to any decisions made by Portland Police Bureau (PPB) Chief Danielle Outlaw about the protest—that he was only giving "strategic direction" at the city's police commissioner.
Outlaw later confirmed she had indeed directed PPB officers to "respond to all 911 calls around the Occupy ICE protest" and that she "informed the Federal Protective Service that we would respond to their emergency calls for service if their safety was at risk."
The Federal Protective Service (FPS) called in a number of additional officers from out-of-state to help block off the road in front of the ICE building and stand guard (armed and in riot gear) during the protest's duration.
Riddell says Wheeler should be held accountable for initially directing local police to "not enforce several state and city laws."
"￼If a rank-and-file police officer was presented with an on-going crime for 30 days and did not take appropriate action that officer would be placed on administrative leave and subject to an internal investigation," Riddell writes.
These letters follow a cease and desist letter sent to Wheeler by Riddell in late July, accusing the mayor of the same offenses. In these newer letters, Riddell says he "hopes" Wheeler will step down during the requested investigation. Neither the US DOJ nor Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum's office has responded to these demands.
But Wheeler has. In a media statement issued this afternoon, Wheeler says: "Make no mistake. They are coming after me because I am a vocal opponent of the administration’s policy of separating kids from their parents... Previous claims made by Sean Riddell have fallen apart upon further inspection and these claims, if investigated, will too.”