A tense scene is unfolding in Bend, Ore., early Thursday that involves hundreds of protesters blocking two Immigration and Customs Enforcement buses while they detained two men, according to reports.
City police took to Twitter to tell protesters that Federal Agents are enroute to the scene and asked those in attendance to move to sidewalks, or leave the area.
The standoff began on Wednesday afternoon after officers reportedly detained the men.
Anne Aurand, a Bend official, confirmed that ICE officers were in the area but said the city does not enforce federal immigration laws or detain people based on their immigration status, KTVZ-TV reported.
Bend police said it had been made aware ICE agents were in the city for an investigation but weren’t given details, the department said in a statement posted to Twitter.
“The Bend Police are not involved with ICE operations,” the statement said. “ We do not use funds or personnel or equipment to enforce federal immigration laws or to detain people based on immigration status…We are on scene to allow free speech and a peaceful area to assemble and to provide life safety support.”
Bend Mayor Sally Russell said on Twitter she had been told that both detained men had warrants out for their arrest and it wasn’t a “sweep for undocumented immigrants.”
She added that she doesn’t support ICE. “I am very worried for everyone in our community, and especially our Latinx community,” Rusell wrote. “ICE is a Federal agency and frustratingly we have no power over the Executive Branch of our country.”
Newly sworn-in Bend Police Chief Mike Krantz said in a news conference that local police were there only to protect protesters and were not assisting ICE. There have not been reports of violence at the protest.
“We want to ensure community members present are safe,” the department said in a statement. “Please move to sidewalks, or leave the area.”
Central Oregon Peacekeepers President Luke Richter told KTVZ earlier they would remain there until they saw the arrest warrants.
“If they’re going to take people from a sanctuary city, they need to have proper documentation of that,” he said. “We have not seen any warrants for their arrest.”
Those who know the detainees said the men have lived there for years.
“U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) fully respects the rights of all people to voice their opinion peacefully without interference,” ICE Regional Public Affairs Officer Tanya Romain said in a statement to KTVZ. “ICE officers conduct targeted law enforcement activity and arrests throughout the course of their daily duties…Due to law enforcement sensitivities and officer safety, ICE does not discuss planned operations.”
ICE did not immediately respond to an after-hours request for comment from Fox News.