PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Some parents turned activists held a rally in South Portland Monday in an effort to pressure the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to stop using chemical weapons in the neighborhood.
Students at the Cottonwood School of Civics and Science were slated to return to school Friday for the first time in a year for hybrid learning but won’t be able to use the playground area because of some munitions like pepper balls landing in the area during recent protests.
The school is near the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement building in downtown Portland, which has been a frequent site for direct action demonstrations against U.S. immigration policy.
Local and state elected officials are also supporting the effort. Rep. Lisa Reynolds, D-Portland wrote a letter to DHS earlier this month urging the agency to stop using chemical munitions in the area. She also asked them to help clean up the playground at Cottonwood School.
“Whatever we can do to get that playground reopened and to have the playground and even the interior atmosphere the school feels safe going forward,” she said. “That should be a priority at both the state, the city, the federal level. We all need to work together for these families.”
She never received a response. Parents who also wrote to DHS said they never received a response.
Kathy Beckley, whose daughter attends the school said she is frustrated.
“Please, please please stop using chemical weapons near our schools and communities where people live and play, and walk along the water and enjoy their life,” she said. “We sent a letter 10 weeks ago, the school did, and we still haven’t heard a response.”