A tense, brief standoff between dozens of protesters camped out near the Capitol Mall and Sacramento Police ended without incident or arrests on Saturday afternoon.
Protesters from a group called Occupy ICE Sacto had set up camp since Thursday on 7th Street between Capitol Mall and N Street near the John E. Moss Federal Building, which houses federal agencies such as U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Police arrived just before 1 p.m. and began taking down tents, while other protesters took down their tents voluntarily.
Words were briefly exchanged between officers and protesters, and some of the protesters were pushed back by a line of officers as they attempted to move farther into the camp.
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Once the encampment was cleared away, activists were allowed to continue their protests, and police were gone from the area by about 1:20 p.m.
“Ultimately, we weren’t here about the protests itself. We’re here about enforcing the camping ordinance, and we have a storage of property ordinance,” Capt. Norm Leong said at the scene. “We seized a couple of items that no one claimed, so they were abandoned property, and then as people were clearing and moving and dismantling the other property, we allowed for that to happen because ultimately we are just trying to get compliance.”
On Friday, the Sacramento Police Department posted notices giving protesters until noon Saturday to take down the encampment because it was in violation of city code that prohibits camping or having any camping paraphernalia such as tents on city property, said Linda Matthew, police department spokeswoman.
In response, the group called for people via social media Saturday morning to join them at N and 7th streets and said they were preparing for a showdown with police and were expecting arrests to be made. Protesters had set up additional tents in the morning before police arrived, too.
Occupy ICE Sacto is an autonomous group of activists, according to Mack Wilson, who would describe herself only as a community organizer. She said this protest was also a response to a host of issues, ranging from homelessness to police use of force to wealth disparity.
“A lot of us have come together over recent events in town, specifically Stephon Clark,” she said before the officers arrived. Wilson said that the community has supported the group, bringing the protesters food and other items.
Police said an outreach team and impact officers were dispatched to the encampment Friday to offer services to the protesters, such as temporary housing, which Matthew said they all declined.