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Activists Attack Cops During Officers’ Failed Attempt To Remove Squatters From Autonomous Zone House

Portland, OR – Violent protesters chased police away from a foreclosed-on house that has become the city’s newest de facto “autonomous zone” on Tuesday morning.

Protesters have been camping in the yard of a home in the 4400-block of North Mississippi Avenue in North Portland since September to try to keep the new owners of the property from taking possession of it, The Oregonian reported.

The home, which had been owned by the Kinney family since 1955, was foreclosed on and sold at auction to a developer in October of 2018.

A website dedicated to saving what has become known as the “Red House on Mississippi” explained that William and Pauline Kinney bought the home with cash when they moved from Arkansas to Oregon to escape “deep South oppression.”

But in 2002, the family took out loans against the house to fund the legal defense of their grandson who was eventually sent to prison for 10 years.

When the family was unable to pay back its debt, the home was foreclosed on in 2018.

The Kinney family filed a federal lawsuit in the District Court of Oregon, Oregon Public Broadcasting reported.

They lost that lawsuit and appealed to the Ninth Circuit Court but the appeal was denied.

A Multnomah County judge authorized the eviction of the family in September, two years after their home was purchased by new owners, Oregon Public Broadcasting reported.

Multnomah County sheriff’s deputies served the eviction order in September that said the defendants were unlawfully occupying the premises, The Oregonian reported.

The sheriff’s department said it gave the Kinney family time to gather their things and offered several housing and shelter options.

“We understand evictions are challenging proceedings even in the best of circumstances,” Multnomah County Sheriff Mike Reese said in a statement. “I believe everyone should have access to appropriate housing.”

But protesters weren’t satisfied and set up a “24/7 eviction blockade” to keep the Kinneys in the home and law enforcement off the property, Oregon Public Broadcasting reported.

The Kinneys filed a writ of certiorari with the U.S. Supreme Court in November but in the meantime, deputies have to enforce the court’s order to evict the family who no longer own the home.

The Portland Police Bureau said its officers joined Multnomah County sheriff’s deputies at about 5 a.m. on Dec. 8 for a “property mission” to return private property and “re-secure a home in which the occupants were previously ordered removed by court order,” according to Oregon Public Broadcasting.

Officers were met by more than 100 protesters who smashed the windows of police cars and threw rocks at them.

Law enforcement retreated temporarily and protesters used that time to repurpose fencing and other construction supplies bought by the new owners for their own barricades.

They also created stack of rocks and other projectiles to have handy to throw at officers upon their return.

When the officers returned to remove the squatters, protesters threw rocks at them and one person sprayed a fire extinguisher at them, prompting an officer to deploy less-lethal munitions, The Oregonian reported.

Police appeared to have given up by 10:30 a.m. and demonstrators repurposed the new fence built by the new owners earlier in the day into a barricade to keep the authorities out.

Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler’s office said it was working on a solution to the problem, The Oregonian reported.

Wheeler’s spokesman, Jim Middaugh, said the mayor office was “actively talking with the Portland Police Bureau about the best way to respond to the situation.”

“The county initiated an eviction proceeding, and we’re trying to figure out how to follow up,” Middaugh explained.

Wheeler released a series of tweets Tuesday night, announcing that the new “autonomous zone” would not be permitted.

“I am authorizing the Portland Police to use all lawful means to end the illegal occupation on North Mississippi Avenue and to hold those violating our community’s laws accountable,” he declared. “There will be no autonomous zone in Portland.”

Wheeler noted that there must be “significant reform” to address the nation’s many “fundamentally racist” systems and structures, but said occupying private property is not an effective solution.

“Illegal trespassing, ignoring lawful orders from police, blocking sidewalks and streets, and intimidating neighbors inflame these crises and make them more difficult to solve,” he said. “That is what’s happening on North Mississippi Avenue right now.”

The mayor explained that the eviction was “a lawful judge’s order” resulting from a “lengthy, thorough judicial proceeding.”

“It’s time for the encampment and occupation to end,” he concluded. “There are many ways to protest and work toward needed reform. Illegally occupying private property, openly carrying weapons, threatening and intimidating people are not among them.”

Portland police said they received more than 80 complaints from neighbors about the protesters camping in the yard between September and November, The Oregonian reported.

Officers have had to respond to the “Red House on Mississippi” for calls about fights, shots fired, noise complaints, and threats.

Written by
Sandy Malone

Managing Editor - Twitter/@SandyMalone_ - Prior to joining The Police Tribune, Sandy wrote the Politics.Net column for the Wall Street Journal and was managing editor of Campaigns & Elections magazine. More recently, she was an internationally-syndicated columnist for Conde Nast (BRIDES), The Huffington Post, and Monsters and Critics. Sandy is married to a retired police captain and former SWAT commander.

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Written by Sandy Malone

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