Behind the Sacramento Police Department’s raid of Occupy ICE Sacramento

Sacramento police raided the Occupy ICE Sacramento camp located outside downtown’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement offices on 7th and N streets Tuesday around 2:30 p.m. And they brought help.

As with most Sac PD raids, demonstrators were prepared for the cops’ arrival due to the 24-hour notice they handed out before returning to clear up camps in violation of Sacramento’s unconstitutional anti-camping ordinance.

Since they knew the time that police would be arriving, the campers removed all of the important structures, supplies and food reserves provided to them by Sacramento residents.

The demonstrators made sure to leave out unwanted couches and beds dropped off by Sacramento residents looking to dispose of old furniture. By the protesters’ logic, the police might as well serve as a public clean-up crew if they were going to raid a peaceful assembly.

A sample piece of furniture left out for Sac PD:

Police tore up the above couch’s cushions before throwing its remnants into a truck for disposal.

Unlike 2011’s Occupy Wall Street demonstrations, Occupy ICE Sacramento is spry and bare-bones. When cops threaten removal, campers pick up their preferred structures, furniture and supplies in the hours before a raid. After that, it’s a waiting game:

Soon enough, signs of a coming raid began to pop up. Inside the US Citizenship and Immigration building, employees gathered around the windows. One man on the ground floor broke out a pair of binoculars.

Surveillance vehicles with deeply tinted windows — SUVs likely owned by the Department of Homeland Security — parked inside the fenced-in structure near the protesters.

Two cops and an ICE official armed with a camera hid inside a nearby parking lot and watched the demonstrators.

Within a minute of the V:RC reporter posting the above tweet, Sac PD rolled into action.

The ICE official who had been surreptitiously taking photos of protesters joined the estimated 12 Sac PD vehicles in the street as the raid began.

Cops walled demonstrators off from their discarded furniture and got to work.

Before long, they’d finished their job.

Later Tuesday evening, Occupy ICE demonstrators returned with the supplies they’d removed earlier. Sac PD returned Wednesday morning to provide another 24-hour notice.

An Occupy ICE Sacramento statement Wednesday morning said the group would be participating in a national rolling hunger strike for immigrant families detained by ICE, joining for three days starting 11:30 a.m. Thursday morning.

As of  Friday, July 27, Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg has not responded to a VOICES: River City request for comment on the Occupy ICE Sacramento demonstration and Sac PD’s response.

In early March, the mayor released a strongly worded video in opposition to ICE’s behavior and in support of immigrant families in a video released to the Sacramento public.

“We will not cower, we will not retreat. We will do everything in our power to stand up for and protect Dreamers, hardworking families, immigrants – people who are just doing their best to work, to learn, and to have a part of the Sacramento and the California dream,” he said.

While the mayor does not directly control the actions of Sacramento Police Department Chief Daniel Hahn, pressure from his office — both public and private — has resulted in changes in police protocol.

In early 2017, V:RC reported on Steinberg’s first months in office being marked by some of the highest rates of anti-camping ordinance citations in the city’s history, despite Steinberg running on a platform of empathy to the homeless community. In the months following the report, citations dropped drastically.

Occupy ICE Sacramento demonstrators say they will not be leaving.


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Dave Kempa
Editor at VOICES: River City
Dave Kempa is the founder and editor of VOICES: River City.