Vandalism near Red House exposes ‘troubling disconnect’

Protests

Neighborhood residents fed up with occupation

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Depending on how you count the days, this is either a week since the occupation at the Red House in North Portland began or just the continuation of a months-long saga.

The house in the 4400 block of N. Mississippi Avenue in Portland’s Humboldt neighborhood has been the scene of a high-profile occupation by a family evicted from the house after defaulting on their second mortgage.

There is also a bit of a dispute over whether a resolution is in the works. Mayor Ted Wheeler said a tentative agreement has been reached between the Kinney family and the developer who owns the Red House. But spokespeople for the Kinney family said no deal is reached and they will remain occupying the house.

Shortly before 6 p.m. Monday, the roads around the Red House were opened to vehicular traffic — the first time in almost a week cars could get through.

But residents in the Humboldt neighborhood are frustrated and fed up with the occupation and describe it as “unacceptable.”

A ‘troubling disconnect’

Many buildings and businesses along N. Mississippi Avenue have been vandalized by graffiti, including the Avel Gordly Head Start building named for the first Black women elected to the Oregon Senate.

The Avel Gordly Head Start facility in North Portland, December 15, 2020 (KOIN)

“When I think about the meaning of Albina Head Start, it’s a community institution, it’s been serving children and families for decades, going back to least the 1970s,” said Gordly, who has lived in Portland for over seven decades. “It’s more than the damage to the building that’s unsettling. What it signals is that someone is ignorant about Albina Head Start and its significance to the Black community.”

Gordly believes the Kinney family deserves support but said she doesn’t support violence.

“This element that seems to have taken root in our community that uses intimidation in different forms to get its point across is not helpful — it’s traumatizing on top of the trauma we’re already living through as a community,” she said. “It makes no sense to me. On the one hand, we’re trying to help a family keep their property and looking at all the principals necessary to employ to do that, then at the same time, damage a building that’s part of an institution that serves Black families. There’s a disconnect there that’s very troubling.”

Graffiti is very visible in the area surrounding the Red House on N. Mississippi in Portland, December 15, 2020 (KOIN)

Stanley Minor, who describes himself as a “proud supporter of the neighborhood,” had his building vandalized.

“It’s hard to continue when you own a building and support the neighborhood and then it gets terrorized. I’m sorry to say it but I don’t think it’s right. There’s other ways to get support. That’s not the way to get support. Vandalism,” he said.

Minor said he’s not afraid of the protesters and is frustrated with city leadership.

Another neighbor who didn’t want to be identified over fear of retribution said none of his neighbors want the armed occupation

“I don’t know if what’s going on there excuses blocking off a part of Portland and then having armed guards patrol a neighborhood. This is unacceptable to me and everyone I talk to personally.”

Graffiti scrawled in the area of the Red House has neighbors fed up and frustrated, December 14, 2020 (KOIN)

This neighbor said they’ve seen “at least 2 Smith-and-Wesson Sport 2 AR-15 rifles. I’ve seen a Remingont 870 with a bandolier of ammo.”

“When there’s ammunition and guns in a residential neighborhood, that’s a recipe for something bad to happen. And I’m sure these kids out here don’t want that on their conscience, either. Any more than someone would want to be injured by a stray bullet.”

And the neighbor wonders if all the property taxes they’ve paid “can’t go towards preventing armed vigilantes from patrolling my neighborhood.”

Tasha Miller has been in the area asking people if they want to sign a card for the Kinney family.

“I want to see (the card), like, covered. So I have a lot more work to do,” Miller said.

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