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Two Portland protesters have been federally charged after lying down to block the driveway of the local Immigration and Customs Enforcement facility at a violent Black Lives Matter-Antifa protest.
18-year-old Essence Maya Sylvester and 20-year-old Alexis Richter, both of Portland, are accused of obstructing authorities from protecting federal property. Richter is an undergraduate student studying mathematics and computer science at the private liberal arts university, Reed College.
On the early hours of Wednesday morning, a crowd gathered in front of the ICE facility for the 121st night of anti-police protests. The facility is protected by officers with the Federal Protective Services. Rioters threw rocks toward the officers and shined flash lights in their eyes. Officers charged out to disperse rioters with teargas and smoke after an individual hurled a lit incendiary device on the roof of the complex.
Protesters later returned to the building. Sylvester and Richter allegedly blocked the entrance by lying across the entryway, preventing law enforcement vehicles from entering or leaving the premises. Both failed to move despite repeated warnings not to impede traffic. They were arrested and refused to provide their names to officers.
The two women made initial appearances in federal court Wednesday before US Magistrate Judge Stacie F. Beckerman. The court arraigned both on charges of failing to obey a lawful order and disorderly conduct on federal property. This is in contrast to Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt, who made it a matter of policy to not prosecute similar charges at the county level.
The Portland ICE facility has been a frequent target of mass protests and riots in recent months. In 2018, the area around it was occupied for five weeks.
Sylvester and Richter were released on conditions pending trial scheduled for Dec. 8.