MCSO: Red House eviction mandated by court order

Protests

Multnomah County Sheriff Mike Reese says moratorium was not applicable due to it being a nonjudicial foreclosure

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Multnomah County Sheriff Mike Reese released a new statement Friday, clarifying a timeline of events leading to eviction action carried out by his law enforcement agency to a home on North Mississippi Avenue.

The home, which has been called the “Red House on Mississippi,” has been the site of a barricade set up by demonstrators earlier this week in a bid to stop the family living there from being evicted.

“We understand evictions are challenging proceedings even in the best of circumstances. Regardless of the reason, losing your home is tragic,” Reese said.

He went on to say that the sheriff’s office was carrying out a court order issued in August by Multnomah County Circuit Court of a writ of execution for an eviction, a document that calls for a civil judgment to be enforced.

The entry to a home is seen as an eviction of at N Mississippi Ave. took place on December 8, 2020 (courtesy MCSO).

“A function of sheriff’s offices in Oregon, which is explicitly expressed in state law, is to carry out civil enforcement orders, such as restraining orders, stalking orders and restitution and eviction orders. Sheriff’s offices do not have any discretion in these matters and are required to follow all court orders,” Reese said.

According to the sheriff’s office, public court documents indicate that a civil complaint was filed in Multnomah County Circuit Court on Nov. 19, 2018, for an eviction due to a nonjudicial foreclosure on the home.

There have been many court hearings on the matter since then where both parties argued their position. A judge ultimately ruled in favor of the property owner after weighing all the evidence, Reese said.

The current state and federal eviction moratoriums in place do not apply to nonjudicial foreclosure cases, such as this, according to the Oregon Judicial Department.

Reese further broke down the timeline of the court and law enforcement activity surrounding the house which lead up to the eviction taking place:

  • On Nov. 19, 2018, a civil complaint for an eviction due to a nonjudicial foreclosure for the home was filed in Multnomah County Circuit Court
  • On May 19, 2020, a final judgement was signed on the case and a notice of restitution was issued.
  • On Aug. 12, 2020, the writ of execution was issued and the sheriff’s office was tasked with serving an eviction order.
  • On Sept. 9, 2020, the eviction notice was served to the home. The sheriff’s office said that legally, after the writ is served, anyone on the property is subject to arrest for criminal charges, including trespass and criminal mischief. Reese said the residents were confrontational and not cooperative, but civil deputies were able to connect with another relative that offered to house the family.
  • People began illegally trespassing on the property and the home was broken into shortly after the home was returned to the property owner. A second writ was then issued by the courts on Sept. 28, 2020.
  • The writ was extended on Oct. 22, 2020.
  • On Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2020, the sheriff’s office served the writ for a second time to all occupants illegally trespassing on the property, per court order. A large number of firearms were discovered on the property and six people were found in the home. All six were arrested and charged with trespassing in the first degree, without incident.

The sheriff’s office said it worked with local service providers to get resources available such as shelters, bus passes, food, water, clothing, blankets and hand warmers prior to the Dec. 8 activity. After they secured the property, it was turned over to the property owner who then hired contractors to remove items from the home and clear the property.

Recovered firearms are recovered during an eviction of a home in N Mississippi Ave., known as the Red House on Mississippi, on December 8, 2020 (courtesy MCSO).

However, a large number of people returned to the property shortly after law enforcement left the area, Reese said. They set up an encampment in the neighborhood by barricading streets using fencing, wood boards, pallets and personal items from neighbors’ homes.

Reese said 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.

He said the current “armed occupation” is in a residential neighborhood and is putting a couple of dozen homes and businesses in the area in immediate danger.

Reese said he supports Mayor Ted Wheeler and Chief Chuck Lovell’s calls for a peaceful resolution on the matter before any police action must be taken to restore order, encouraging people to “address their concerns regarding the foreclosure through the appropriate legal channels.”

In a statement on Friday, Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt said that while the Kinney family’s plight has shone a spotlight on the pressing issues of the housing crisis, economic inequalities and racial and social injustices, he condemned “violence and intimidation tactics” allegedly used by protesters and added that “violence, property damage, and harm to our community is inexcusable and will be met with aggressive prosecution.”

On Friday, the real estate investor who now owns the home said he would be willing to sell the property back to the former owners, according to the Associated Press.

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