Rows of steel barricades have replaced the Occupy ICE Louisville camp at 7th Street and Broadway. | Photo courtesy @occupyicelou

Following an early morning raid on its camp, the future of the Occupy ICE Louisville protest encampment is up in the air.

Just after 7 a.m. Thursday, over a hundred Louisville Metro Police Department officers descended onto Camp Compasión, Louisville’s chapter of the fledgling Occupy ICE protest movement, and seized what it called “abandoned property” and forced the camp to disband.

In a statement, LMPD Chief Conrad said the police had been patient with the protesters, but the camp ultimately failed to comply with state and federal accessibility law after repeated requests. The statement mentions that the encampment routinely violated what the city contends were deviations from the Americans with Disabilities Act, as well as a state law governing infrastructure access.

“They have not come into compliance, so we had to take action and clear and keep a path on the sidewalk,” Conrad said.

Jesús Ibáñez, a spokesman for the group, declined to comment on the morning raid, but called LMPD’s final written notice delivered to the camp Thursday morning “bullshit.”

The activist group released a statement late Thursday morning condemning LMPD’s “illegal actions,” arguing that the police broke an ordinance passed in February by the Louisville Metro Council requiring evictions to be proceeded by a three-week notice.

“The so-called Compassionate City of Louisville and Mayor Fischer have made it very clear they do not care about the treatment of our immigrant community, by deliberately turning a blind eye to horrors being perpetrated by ICE and the unlawful behavior of LMPD,” the group’s statement read. “Instead, they chose to antagonize those who act to disrupt it. They pretend to fret about ADA regulations and ‘public safety,’ while Camp Compasión stood peacefully as a model of radical love, hospitality, and resistance for all who built community with us.”

The group also claims that LMPD never served them with an official notice or citation in advance of the raid.

The LMPD’s statement cited assertions regarding “a survey of the area around the protest site,” which raised “public health concerns, including how those staying at the camp are handling human waste.” Multiple protesters involved with the encampment have told Insider that they used the bathrooms at a White Castle restaurant across the street on Broadway.

Footage of the raid captured by protester and professional videographer John Doemain depicted dozens of LMPD cops methodically dismantling the camp and seizing what it called “unclaimed property,” including tents, tarps, and other items.

By 8:30 a.m. Thursday, the 17-day-old camp — which had grown to accommodate an “art tent” and self-defense classes in its final days, and had survived two counter-protests by right-wing militias — had been completely razed; only a pair of legal observers from the National Lawyer’s Guild were on hand to review the situation, and nearly a dozen LMPD officers monitoring from across 7th Street. Steel fences now occupy the site where tents once stood.

According to the footage, the officers said they would confiscate any property that intruded on an imposed four-foot thruway that the city mandated was necessary for the camp to comply with the ADA guidelines.

In the hours following the raid, Mayor Greg Fischer issued a series of tweets acknowledging protesters’ concerns, but concluded that the activists “follow the law” should they choose to “continue exercising their First Amendment rights.”

LMPD spokeswoman Jessie Halladay said that no charges were brought against any protesters during Thursday’s raid, nor were there any arrests.

UPDATED 12:21 p.m.: This story has been amended to include a statement from Occupy ICE Louisville.

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Jonathan Meador
Jonathan Meador has covered local and state issues for nearly a decade. He has worked for LEO Weekly, The Nashville Scene and WFPL, and his reporting has appeared in Salon, Gambit and others. He has won multiple awards from the Louisville Society of Professional Journalists, including first-place accolades for best news story, women and minority issues, investigative reporting, enterprise reporting and political reporting. He supports both the Kentucky Wildcats and the Louisville Cardinals equally.