Red House occupation continues; Mayor, DA, Sheriff weigh in

Civic Affairs

Barricades up since Tuesday eviction; Documents show Kinneys own 2nd home

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A resolution may be in the works as occupiers at the Red House in North Portland said they are negotiating with the city and said there are offers to buy the house outright as part of the solution.

And a GoFundMe set up to help the Kinney family has now generated more than $300,000 in donations.

Documents obtained by KOIN 6 News show the Kinneys own a second home in Portland. KOIN 6 News reached out to the organization representing the family. They said they would be clarifying information about that in a statement later but couldn’t say when that would be.

While the occupation on North Mississippi continues, however, a landlord in the area of the protest told KOIN 6 News off-camera their tenants are afraid for their safety. They didn’t want to do an interview for fear of retribution.

Mayor Ted Wheeler’s office said Friday afternoon they’re working on deescalation but are prepared to use other measures.

“This includes opening lines of communication and attempting to facilitate a resolution for the involved parties,” the mayor’s office said in a statement. “If diplomacy and de-escalation fail, we are prepared for other alternatives because the Mayor will not let an armed occupation stand in the City of Portland.”

Multnomah County DA Mike Schmidt also issued a statement. He said, in part, “I condemn the violence and intimidation tactics I have learned about from earlier this week. Continued violence, property damage, and harm to our community is inexcusable and will be met with aggressive prosecution. I remain optimistic that the ongoing negotiations will produce mutually beneficial outcomes for the family and the current property owner.”

And Multnomah County Sheriff Mike Reese weighed in.

“Law enforcement and community members have seen individuals at the encampment heavily armed, establishing blockades, producing incendiary devices, constructing spike strips using barbed wire and stockpiling shields, sticks and rocks,” Reese said. “Portland is now facing an armed occupation in a residential neighborhood, putting a couple dozen homes and businesses in the immediate area in danger and jeopardizing everyone’s safety.”

On Thursday night, Kinney said everyone involved in the negotiations was looking for a peaceful resolution. And he said they also obtained commitments “in the making” from Mayor Wheeler’s office and PPB Chief Chuck Lovell that include a written apology and confirmation they won’t be attacked.

William Kinney, also known as William X. Nietzche, stands outside the Red House on North Mississippi in Portland in October 2020 (KOIN)

“This all started from two separate mortgage servicers requesting the same monthly morgtage payment two months in a row, until I ignited the onslaught of our qualified written request to see who was entitled to enforce the note in this case,” Kinney said told KOIN 6 News in October. “We didn’t get no responses. All the while they were executing default processes behind the scenes.”

The Humboldt neighborhood home was previously auctioned off and the family forced out. The occupation of the Red House began in September after a judge rejected the family’s request for an emergency stay.

However, the real estate investor who now owns the house has offered to sell the property back to the former owners.

Roman Ozeruga bought the home through a foreclosure sale in 2018 for $260,000. He told The Oregonian/OregonLive in a story published Friday that he would sell it back to the Kinneys, the Black and Indigenous family that owned the house since the 1950s.

As of Friday morning, a GoFundMe campaign has already raised over $286,000 for the Kinney family to buy back the home.

Things escalated Tuesday when officers responded to the new owner’s complaints and arrested about a dozen people.

Since then, protesters barricaded streets and left hazards for law enforcement, including spikes that could puncture tires.

An aerial view of the Red House on N. Mississippi and the barricades surrounding it, December 10, 2020 (KOIN)

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