Portland food truck threatened for selling lunch to ICE employees

Aug 2, 2018, 6:00 AM
food truck...
In this June 25, 2018, file photo, an unidentified man holds a sign behind a makeshift wall at a protest camp on property outside the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement office in Portland, Ore. (AP Photo/Don Ryan, file)
(AP Photo/Don Ryan, file)

Scott and Julie Hakes never expected that just doing their jobs — running the Happy Camper food cart, all proceeds from which benefit their non-profit, Operation off the Grid — would result in their daughter being threatened with physical harm.

The family sold burgers, foot-long hot dogs, and prime rib to anyone and everyone — including the employees who worked in the Portland Immigration and Customs Enforcement headquarters across the street.

This act of conducting business did not sit well with the people who set up a protest camp right outside ICE headquarters, standing against the forced separation of illegal immigrant families.

“Serving anybody that walked out of the ICE building was not acceptable to the individuals that were camping out across the street,” Scott Hakes said. “That tended to flare some tempers, and it was directed at us.”

Just because he and his family sold food to ICE employees, they were assumed to be supporters of the federal immigration policy. Hakes said that the attitude of the protesters was, “If you’re going to feed them, you’re on our hit list … You are supporting ripping babies out of parents’ hands and putting them in cages.”

Protesters — many of whom were just 18 or 20 years old, Hakes said — hung pink baby shoes around the Happy Camper food truck to represent the babies being separated from their parents, and held candlelight vigils at the food truck’s picnic benches. Hakes described the protesters as “acting like they are possessed” and “out of their minds.”

Despite the “violent and verbal threats” that Happy Camper received, Hakes said that the Portland Police Department “wasn’t going to be there for us.”

“It was like the Wild West down there, seriously,” he said. “They could do anything they wanted, literally, because the PPD was told to stand down.”

The scariest point came, however, when the protesters threatened to hurt the Hakes’ daughter.

“It got to the point where my daughter was afraid to go down and open the cart day after day,” he said.

To protect the family before the situation got worse, the Hakes made the decision to shut down the Happy Camper food truck.

The family have spent their entire lives in Portland and loved the city before now, but are now considering leaving their longtime home to find somewhere with people who Hakes said are “more level-headed.”

“The way that Portland has become today is not what we grew up loving,” Hakes said.

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Portland food truck threatened for selling lunch to ICE employees