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Bend business owner recalls chaos from ICE protest

Stewart Fritchman talks about when ICE agents showed up at protest

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- The scene Wednesday night was filled with chaos and confusion, as hundreds of protesters blocked two unmarked ICE buses from leaving with two detainees aboard near the Crane Shed Commons in southwest Bend.

However, just a few hours later, everything was cleaned up, the buses were gone. But now, the parking lot has become for some a memorial to the protest, filled with chalk-drawn messages and signs.

Thursday morning, NewsChannel 21 caught up with Stewart Fritchman, owner of the nearby Bellatazza, as he was helping clean up the site.

"We decided we needed to go down and do something to clean up,” Fritchman said. “But also, we needed to process what really happened."

Fritchman went live on his Facebook page late Wednesday night to document the protest as federal agents intervened to pull the detainees off the bus.

"All the protesters were right here, where we are standing,” he recalled. “Completely peaceful. Sitting, doing nothing and very aware that this was going to go down. So it started getting scary when they (U.S. Border Patrol agents) started advancing."

The scene rapidly deteriorated, and Fritchman said he saw what appeared to be someone being pulled away with a broken limb.

The detainees were eventually taken away from the scene in unmarked cars, but Fritchman said there are still many questions about the incident.

"There are so many missing elements to this story,” he said. “We had two giant vans here for apparently two guys, but we don't know why. Nobody saw a warrant."

He also said the whole event could have ended differently.

"This could have been de-escalated much quicker, much more easily and ended without a broken arm or being pepper-sprayed,” Fritchman said.

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Jack Hirsh

Jack Hirsh is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Jack here.

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