PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — After protesters barricaded streets and set booby traps Tuesday in response to multiple arrests in a clash over gentrification and the eviction of a Black and Indigenous family from a home, PPB Chief Chuck Lovell asked for the protesters in North Portland to disarm and leave the area to “allow the neighborhood to return to peace and order.”
Several city blocks remained closed by a series of blockades Wednesday fabricated with wood, metal and wire fencing. Protesters dressed in black and wearing ski masks stood watch from atop a nearby wall.
William Nietzche, who is the son of the evicted family, said the eviction is “inhumane, unjust and should never happen again This is generational displacement that happened.”
“We are aware of the stockpile of weapons and the presence of firearms. We are aware of the threat to the community, police and media. We’re seen the attacks,” Lovell said in a tweeted video. “Portland police will enforce the law and use force if necessary.”
Earlier the chief tweeted, “Our goal is for this to resolve peacefully to increase safety for all involved. I encourage those involved to reach out to our demonstration liaisons so we can discuss a peaceful outcome.”
Mayor Ted Wheeler made it clear Tuesday night: The illegal “encampment and occupation” of a house on Mississippi Avenue in North Portland will end.
Wheeler said he authorized police to use “all lawful means to end the illegal occupation on North Mississippi Avenue” and said there would be “no autonomous zone” in Portland. (Read his full statement here.)
‘Don’t support them tearing up the neighborhood’
But Dewayne Maze, who lives in the neighborhood, said being there now is like being “behind enemy lines over there. They’re really set up.”
Maze noted there used to be “a lot of Black people in this area and now it seems like they’re being pushed out.”
Still, he said he does support their message but not the vandalism to the neighborhood
“I don’t support them just tearing up the neighborhood. I saw someone pouring a big old bag of trash on the street and I mean, like, why?” Maze said. “They shouldn’t tear up the neighborhood. My friend lives right over there and something got missing from his house. They’re standing in his yard, spray painting the sidewalk in front of his house.”
For many weeks, the “Red House” on Mississippi has been a focal point for protesters trying to shine a light on gentrification and evictions during this pandemic. But this eviction action began in February — before the pandemic. The house in question does not fall under the emergency eviction moratorium active in Oregon through the end of December because the moratoriums “do not apply to evictions based on post-nonjudicial foreclosures,” according to the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office.
Dispatcher data from the past three months shows police have had more than 80 calls about the alleged trespassers, including gunfire, burglary, thefts, vandalism, threats and other disturbances.
What happened Tuesday
Multnomah County Sheriff deputies arrived at the house on the 4400 block of Mississippi Avenue, which has seen demonstrations against gentrification since the late summer, around 5 a.m. on Tuesday to “re-secure” the home. The Black family that had lived at the home, the Kinney family, were first served an eviction notice in September, according to the sheriff’s office.
More than a dozen people were arrested and a crowd barricaded a road as police and protesters clashed Tuesday outside the “Red House” on Mississippi Avenue in North Portland.
The sheriff’s office said two guns were also found in the house, along with two sets of body armor and vests, and what appeared to be a Molotov cocktail in the backyard.
By 1 p.m., Portland police arrested 6 more people and reported rocks and paint-filled balloons thrown at officers as they tried to disperse the protesters.
Protesters broke police vehicle windows and popped the tires of two police vehicles, according to officials. Officers said that after they pulled back, the crowd stockpiled rocks and used fencing to block North Mississippi Avenue.
North Mississippi remained blocked into Tuesday night as protesters barricaded the street. Protesters told KOIN 6 News off camera there were still people in the home and they were protesting Tuesday morning’s arrests in addition to the eviction order.
The Kinney family and their supporters say the eviction is illegal. The family is seeking to raise $250,000 on GoFundMe.