PORTLAND, Ore. (PORTLAND TRIBUNE) — The son of a local family leading an eviction blockade was cited twice for “physical mistreatment” of puppies at their red-painted North Portland home, the Portland Tribune has confirmed.
Based on witness statements, Multnomah County Animal Services officers cited William Kinney III, who uses the name William X. Nietzche, with two infractions on April 6 of this year.
Kinney was sent mailers notifying him of the infractions, and instructions that “physical abuse (is) not to be used as form of punishment. Any more violations could result in more fines and or fees,” according to animal services spokesman Jay LeVitre.
Kinney did not appeal the infractions and was found guilty by default. The two $100 infractions remain unpaid at this time.
The alleged incident happened on March 30, according to the resident of a nearby apartment building, who emailed the county about a man’s treatment of the Kinney family’s litter of nine husky puppies.
“He cornered two of them between the fence and the side of the red house and smacked one on its face. He then smacked the other and its face hit the side of the house after he hit it,” according to the email. “The yard has trash all over it that the dogs are living in and a chicken wire fence that the puppies get their necks and limbs stuck in daily.”
Two county animal control officers visited the property later that day but were told they had no jurisdiction by a man who swore at them while declaring himself a “first national” standing on “sovereign land.” At the time of the visit one officer saw an adult husky who appeared healthy and not in distress, according to a summary of the incident.
The animal control officer called the apartment dweller on March 31 and asked her to describe the man she saw hitting the puppies; the officer said that description matched the man he met at the house, and later ID’d the man as Kinney III based on photos of the Red House family available on the Internet.
In a call with the officer, the woman described Kinney as using an “open palm” to strike the puppies.
“It was super upsetting,” the woman told the Tribune in phone call on Dec. 11. “I don’t want to see husky puppies get hit and whimper. It was not fun to live around them.”
She no longer lives in the area.
Animal Services was later advised by Portland Police Bureau Sgt. John Birkinbine that “people who refer to themselves as ‘first nation’ or ‘sovereign’ are rarely compliant, and almost always volatile toward law enforcement,” and that he could not risk the safety of his officers due to the lack of warrant or concrete evidence, such as a photos or video.
Multnomah County Animal Services received another request for a welfare check on Sept. 5 from an anonymous resident who reported the dogs were whining constantly while left outside during the day and night.
“(The caller) stated to me that she has not witnessed any of the animals being hurt, nor could she say for sure the sounds she hears coming from the animals at times are due to physical mistreatment,” wrote an animal services investigator assigned to the case.
Animal Services declined to proceed with the second complaint, citing a lack of evidence.
The Red House family did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
MCAS records show two Siberian huskies and an Alaskan Malamute as living at the property, with Julie Metcalf Kinney, the matriarch of the family, registered as their owner.
The saga continues:
While the occupation of the Red House on Mississippi Avenue has only lasted four days — the saga is already replete with twists and turns.
On Thursday, Dec. 10, KGW and the Oregonian reported that developer Roman Ozeruga, who bought their house for $260,000 during a 2018 foreclosure sale — would sell it back to the Kinneys at cost. Oregon Public Broadcasting, citing an interview with a friend of Ozeruga, reported the cost would likely top out at $280,000, including property taxes and transaction fees.
The Red House GoFundMe has currently raised $297,000 as of Friday evening.
OPB also caused a stir online after it reported the Kinneys, a multi-generational family, also own another single-story home on a 5,000-square-foot lot in the Irvington neighborhood. The property is valued at $598,000, according to Multnomah County records reviewed by the Tribune.
Though it was never explicitly stated, doubtless some of the Red House’s many supporters assumed the family would be left homeless if evicted from the two-story craftsman they have owned since the mid-1950s.
When asked where they were staying during a Wednesday press conference, Kinney III told reporters “we are in between relatives and hotels, and me and my brothers have been maintaining our adverse possession of our home.”
On Friday, Portland Police Chief Chuck Lovell said in a statement that officers “are working diligently behind the scenes to do everything we can with partners and community members to safely resolve the situation.”
“I again implore those in the street to dismantle the barricades and allow traffic to flow and emergency responders to get to those who are in need of fire, police and medical emergency services,” Lovell said. “Lives depend upon it.”
Staff with the mayor’s office have also been in touch with both the Kinneys and the developer.
In a separate statement, Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt described the plight of the Kinney family as inducing shame, noting that “we understand and feel more keenly that foreclosures and evictions, even when afforded due process, can have cascading effects.”
The caveat, however, is that “continued violence, property damage and harm to our community is inexcusable and will be met with aggressive prosecution,” Schmidt said.
Right-wing media outlets have reported that of a dozen or so arrested during the first confrontation between police and the Red House on Tuesday, most have their case status listed as “no complaint.”
The District Attorney’s Office says the “no complaint” status does not technically mean the charges have been dropped, since they could be re-opened after further investigation.