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Protesters occupy Portland home, are arming guards, stockpiling weapons and threatening police

Portland protesters. (Sean Meagher/The Oregonian/TNS)
December 10, 2020

Demonstrators in a new occupied zone in Portland are attempting to prevent the eviction of a local family this week, and have stockpiled weapons, assigned armed guards, and spray-painted threats to kill police officers at the so-called “Red House on Mississippi Avenue.”

The Portland Police Bureau said local residents near the property have begun building fencing around their properties and boarding up their homes as “threatening behavior and intimidation they’ve experienced” over the past few months continue to produce growing concerns, Fox News reported.

“We want a peaceful & safe resolution to the occupation of public space on N Mississippi Ave,” Police Chief Chuck Lovell tweeted Wednesday. “We are greatly concerned about the fortification of barricades, stockpiling of weapons, armed sentries, attacks on journalists & threats to kill officers in graffiti in this public space.”

According to Fox News, activists in the Pacific Northwest city illegally occupied the Red House Tuesday. Two sons of the home’s previous owners were arrested after Mayor Ted Wheeler told police to pursue “all lawful means” necessary to prevent an autonomous zone from being established.

A number of other demonstrators were also arrested on Tuesday as people were moving in and out of the home despite a judge’s order, law enforcement said. Individuals have reportedly been trespassing on the home’s property since September, in addition to camping on nearby privately owned and publicly owned properties, the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office stated.

Mayor Wheeler’s claim that the demonstrators had formed an autonomous zone at the property was reportedly refuted by activists, claiming they actually formed an “eviction blockade.”

The Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office, assisted by the Portland Police Bureau, said it responded to the home about 5 a.m. on Tuesday “to re-secure the home in which the occupants were previously ordered removed by court order.”

A group called “Red House on Mississippi” released a statement on their perspective of the events.

“Despite permission to camp from the landowner, officers indiscriminately swept the area, targeting the popular free community kitchen, misgendering campers, all in the middle of an economic crisis and pandemic. This is totally unacceptable behavior, says William X Nietzche, resident and son of the Red House homeowners, who was arrested and injured by officers,” the statement read.

On Tuesday, officers and deputies surrounded the site to allow private contractors to build new fencing, but demonstrators then removed the fencing and repeatedly trespassed on the property, the Portland Police Bureau said.

“Portland Police officers stood by while private property owners began to secure their property who police have been working with in anticipation of this morning’s activities. Private property owners arranged for boarding up and fencing,” police said.

The home was previously owned by the Kinney family, according to the Red House on Mississippi website. While the family paid off their original mortgage, they took out another loan against the house in order to cover legal fees for a family member who was arrested in 2002.

The sheriff’s office said, “The eviction moratoriums do not apply to evictions based on post-nonjudicial foreclosures, such as this case.”

“Our goal is for this to resolve peacefully to increase safety for all involved,” Chief Lovell tweeted. “I encourage those involved to reach out to our demonstration liaisons so we can discuss a peaceful outcome.”

Fox News reported that the eviction has been contested and repeatedly upheld in court since November 2018.