Federal Agents 'Teargas' Protesters Trying to Block ICE Arrest in Oregon

Federal agents reportedly teargassed a crowd of hundreds of protesters in Bend, Oregon on Wednesday after they blocked U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents from taking two men into federal custody for hours.

After an immigration advocacy group alerted the public to ICE's attempt to arrest two men and load them onto unmarked white buses, dozens of demonstrators began to arrive at the scene to try to prevent the buses from moving, with their numbers eventually growing to hundreds.

In video, protesters can be seen gathering around the buses, preventing them from moving.

Organizers told The Washington Post that demonstrators had been at the hotel parking lot for as long as 12 hours and were willing to remain there as long as necessary to prevent ICE from taking the two men away.

It is unclear whether federal agents used tear gas or pepper spray. The Post reported that tear gas was used in the incident, while a local reporter at the scene said pepper spray was used.

At around 11 p.m. local time, federal agents from the Department of Homeland Security arrived on the scene, with video and photos showing agents with riot shields and batons confronting protesters.

At some point, The Post reported, chemical agents were deployed to disperse the crowd.

Agents were then able to remove the two men from the bus, helping ICE take them into federal custody.

In a statement, an ICE spokesperson said: "The law enforcement activity in Bend, Oregon, is part of ICE's mission to arrest criminal aliens presenting a danger to public safety and take them off the street. The two individuals arrested each had a history of criminal violent behavior."

The agency would not expand on what that history was or provide any other information on the two individuals due to pending litigation.

"While ICE respects the right of people to voice their opinion peacefully, that does not include illegally interfering with federal law enforcement duties," they said of the protest.

"ICE will take all necessary measures to ensure the safety of its officers and detainees, and will vigorously pursue prosecution against anyone who puts them in harm's way," they said.

In a statement published on Twitter, the City of Bend's Police Department noted that its officers were present on the scene and the department distanced itself from federal efforts, making clear that its officers were not assisting DHS agents more than once.

"The Department of Homeland Security is the agency in charge. Bend Police are not participating with Federal Agents' activities," the department said.

It then warned that federal agents were on the way, ahead of the reported teargassing incident.

When the agents arrived on the scene, the police department wrote: "Bend Police have pulled back and are not assisting the Federal Agents."

Later, the police department wrote: "It appears the Federal Agents have left the area. The attendees of the first amendment event appear to have [dispersed] peacefully."

This article has been updated with a statement from ICE.

Federal agents
Agents form a line across a street in Portland, Oregon early July 26, 2020, as protests continue across the United States following the death of George Floyd. Federal agents reportedly teargassed protesters who sought to block ICE from arresting two men for hours in Bend, Oregon on Wednesday, August 13, 2020. ANKUR DHOLAKIA/AFP/Getty
Federal Agents 'Teargas' Protesters Trying to Block ICE Arrest in Oregon | U.S.