Philadelphia police break up encampment outside ICE building

Police say seven protesters were issued citations for “failure to disperse” after they refused to let people in or out of a Philadelphia immigration office.

The Philadelphia Police Department said, “This afternoon, on the 800 block of Cherry Street, protestors were present and blocking the entrance to the [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] HQ building, while refusing to allow anyone to enter or exit. As a result, and after several warnings by police, 7 protestors were issued citations for ‘Failure to Disperse’ and released.”

The city’s mayor, Jim Kenney, added in a statement that protesters were blocking the sidewalk, and he couldn’t “make exceptions simply because he agrees with the protesters.”

Police confront demonstrators outside the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency on Thursday, July 5, 2018 in Philadelphia.  Several protesters were arrested. (Jessica Griffin /The Philadelphia Inquirer via AP)

Dozens of protesters had taken over sidewalks to decry the separation of immigrant children from parents who cross the U.S.-Mexico border illegally. (Jessica Griffin /The Philadelphia Inquirer via AP)

Dozens of protesters had taken over sidewalks to decry the separation of immigrant children from parents who cross the U.S.-Mexico border illegally.

The Trump administration has been hammered domestically and internationally over the practice of separating families caught crossing the border illegally, as a result of “zero-tolerance” policies. President Trump has moved to end that practice, but the controversy has complicated any chance of passing legislation.

Trump, meanwhile, repeatedly has suggested as he did Thursday that the federal government should institute a practice of simply sending border crossers back instead of using immigration judges to process their cases. Such calls have led to accusations that this would be wrongly denying due process.

Police confront demonstrators outside the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency on Thursday, July 5, 2018 in Philadelphia.  Several protesters were arrested. (Jessica Griffin /The Philadelphia Inquirer via AP)

Police say seven protesters were issued citations for “failure to disperse” after they refused to let people in or out of a Philadelphia immigration office. (Jessica Griffin /The Philadelphia Inquirer via AP)

Thursday was the fourth day protesters had camped out in front of the ICE offices.

Police have said they were there to protect people's right to protest, but also need to keep the street and access to the building open.

By Thursday afternoon, social media videos showed officers pushing their bikes through the encampment, toppling tents, tarps and camping chairs and sending protesters scrambling amid the chaos.

Frank Miles is a reporter and editor covering sports, tech, military and geopolitics for FoxNews.com. He can be reached at Frank.Miles@foxnews.com.