Since 11:30 a.m. today, August 2, Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials trying to enter or leave the parking lot in front of the agency's field office in Centennial have found themselves face-to-face with demonstrators who are blocking their way.
A group of protesters has been in front of the ICE office since late Sunday. But eight individuals with the Abolish ICE coalition stepped up their opposition to the federal agency today by forming human blockades across the two entrances to the parking lot. They're holding on to each other using pipes and tubes with chains and hand grips inside so that police will likely have to remove them in one fell swoop.
According to Kensy Serrano, an undocumented immigrant at the protest who was detained for three months last year at the immigrant detention center in Aurora, an ICE employee even threatened to run the protesters over. "The protesters stood in front of the truck," Serrano says. "He wanted to drive, but we made him stop.”
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As of 2 p.m. today, at least twelve federal police vehicles had arrived on the scene, including police in riot-control gear. The police have warned protesters that if they don't leave, they will be arrested.
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Serrano says she thinks the police will take action soon but that the demonstrators will not move unless forced. Other protesters not in the human chains are chanting and singing to support them. The Abolish ICE coalition in Centennial is also calling for better conditions inside the GEO Group-run detention facility in Aurora.
Protesters around the U.S. are calling for ICE to be abolished and are demonstrating against family separation at the border. For twelve days in June, protesters camped in front of ICE's headquarters in Portland, Oregon, under the banner OCCUPY ICE PDX. Eight were arrested on June 28 when they formed a blockade and tried to prevent a van from leaving the parking lot. After the camp was forcibly disassembled the next day, nine demonstrators were hit with criminal charges.
Update, August 3: On Thursday evening, deputies and officers from an Arapahoe County Sheriff's SWAT team assisted the Federal Protective Service in cutting the PVC that protesters were using to chain themselves together. According to a spokesperson from the Arapahoe County Sheriff’s office, seven protesters were cited. One protester who refused to provide his/her name was arrested and is being detained. According to a spokesperson with the Denver Democratic Socialists of America, protesters have gone home and cleaned up the encampment, with no plans to return this weekend.