PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — As armed people continue to be gathered inside the barricades at the Red House in North Portland for the fifth day, in a bid to stop a family’s eviction, one of the family members says he’s entered negotiations with local and state government to peacefully end the standoff.
Despite that promising update from the family member, a man who entered the occupied area to document the scene Saturday afternoon said he was surrounded by people with guns and clubs in the street and feared for his life.
The barricades have effectively blocked off a section of North Mississippi Avenue, near where the home is located, for several days.
According to one of the family members fighting the eviciton, William Kinney III, who goes by William X. Nietzche, talks are ongoing this weekend between the family and city and state leaders on finding a resolution.
“The latest is that we met with state representatives, the mayor’s office, an Oregon House Rep. and we are in negotiations to come up with a peaceful, diplomatic resolution,” Nietzche told KOIN 6 News.
He added that the family has received some commitments on behalf of the city and PPB and the sheriffs that there won’t be any threat of another raid on the Red House while they finish these negotiation processes.
“The common goal that everyone shared at the meeting was that we all share the common goal that we want the Kinney home restored to the Kinney family,” Nietzche said.
He said they’ve also been discussing the moratoriums and the safeguards that will soon expire.
“The moratoriums are set to expire here in a few weeks and this matter is putting pressure on our elected representatives to extend the moratoriums and come up with more relief packages so that the community at large can be safe.
In addition, Nietzche wanted to say his piece about reports that came out this week about a second home linked to the Kinney family.
“We have cleared up a few of the misinformation that was going around that we have a family, my aunt, that is trustee of my grandmother’s estate, that has temporarily allowed us to stay at my grandmother’s home. And that that was getting confused as being another part of one of our assets and that’s incorrect information.”
Nietzche said he’s been staying at the other home, but only temporarily. He said his aunt is the trustee for his grandmother, who is in a care facility and suffering mental deterioration.
“We have been given permission to temporarily stay there while we’re in limbo. Otherwise, we’ve just been staying in between hotels and other relatives houses. It’s not our home, we’ve been allowed to temporarily stay at my aunts home,” Nietzche said.
Man says he felt threatened after entering occupied area to document it
On Saturday afternoon, Gabe Johnson, the director of the Coalition to Save Portland, told KOIN 6 News he and an attorney went inside the occupied area in the street surrounding the house to document the scene
Johnson said was surrounded by people with guns and billy clubs when he went entered the area. All this after having received threats of legal action from a tenant group that demanded he retract a statement his organization made earlier in the week.
“This is the one time, I’ve really felt–excuse me if I feel emotional about it–but I felt like my life was threatened and that’s not OK,” Johnson recalled. “Imagine what everyone else feels in those area and when you have 16 men around you that are armed threatening you, it’s scary.”
Johnson said someone knocked a phone out of the hands of the attorney’s assistant and took off it it. The attorney chased the person down and got the phone back, then they left.
Johnson said he’s considering filing a police report over the incident, saying “people shouldn’t have to live under the threat of armed militias” in Portland.
Friday’s updates: Increased security, cache of weapons behind barricade
As many as 300 people were gathered inside the barricades at the Red House in North Portland on Friday, with a cache of weapons and a desire not to be prosecuted if they end the occupation that has blocked homes in the Humboldt neighborhood for 5 days.
Johnson told KOIN 6 News he went into the autonomous zone Friday afternoon to speak with people directly connected with the occupation. He said that armed security for the protesters had significantly increased.
“A lot of the security you will see inside the zone is people with long arms, 9MM military Glocks and what-not along with stashes on the ground, either rocks, bottles, things to throw at the police, you know, if they decide to come in,” Johnson said.
“One of the things that I saw immediately when I went in was just how fortified it was, even a day later, probably double the armaments, double the security.”
Johnson said he also spoke with nearby residents who said they are concerned the streets are blocked to emergency vehicles. They’re also concerned about the concentration of weapons.
“You have untrained people with a cache of guns, a lot of guns,” he said. “At any point a weapon could go off.”
In a statement Friday afternoon Mayor Ted Wheeler’s office said, “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.”
Johnson said he eventually talked to 2 women who said they could speak on behalf of the Kinney family.
“One of the things that they wanted was a letter from PPB stating that anyone that’s in the autonomous zone will not be arrested or prosecuted if they start to take down the barricades,” he said.
The Portland Tribune also reported Friday that Nietzche was cited for physical mistreatment of puppies back in April.