Portland, Oregon, Mayor Ted Wheeler sent the city’s police force to evict a new “autonomous zone” that cropped up around an anti-eviction protest on Tuesday, reversing a months-long policy of tolerating ongoing demonstrations, even when they turn violent.
“Protesters have been camping out for months to prevent the eviction of the Kinney family but on Tuesday morning, tensions escalated and protesters used fences and barricades set up by law enforcement officials to surround the home, which has been named the “Red House on Mississippi” due to its location on Mississippi Ave. in North Portland,” Newsweek reported Tuesday.
Video of the “autonomous zone” appeared on Twitter, showing a shanty town made of cardboard boxes and pilfered public fencing with warning signs posted on the outside. Reports indicated that a few dozen protesters planned to take up residence in the “autonomous zone” surrounding the Red House
Protesters in Portland are occupying space around Mississippi Avenue following police returning to the “Red House,” where a local family is being evicted pic.twitter.com/C4b4JRhN7T
— Zane Sparling (@PDXzane) December 8, 2020
The family owes approximately $100,000 on the home, and the bank foreclosed. Protesters believe both that the family should not be forced out during a pandemic and that the bank is seeking a swifter eviction because property next to the home recently sold for more than seven figures.
When the city refused to honor protesters’ demands, they organized an “autonomous zone” similar to the one that went up in Seattle, Washington, earlier this summer, leading to several deaths and a final decision by Seattle Police to break up the “Capitol Hill Occupied Protest” (or “CHOP”) by force, claiming that the city had no right to enter territory that had “seceded” and referring to the situation as n blockade on Indigenous land.”
Although Portland’s Mayor Ted Wheeler has largely tolerated protests against both the city and the federal government over racial and social justice issues, he made it clear, Tuesday, that the city would not tolerate an occupation and authorized Portland police to use “all lawful means” to clear the “autonomous zone” and “end the illegal occupation,” per Oregon’s Public Broadcasting network.
“Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler authorized Portland police to use “all lawful means” to clear protesters from a home on North Mississippi Avenue Tuesday evening. The house has been the site of protests for months as demonstrators rally against the eviction of a Black and Indigenous family,” OPB reported Tuesday.
Shortly before 5 am Wednesday morning, the Portland police and the Multnomah County Sheriff began their “property mission,” OPB notes, reclaiming the land on which protesters had set up the autonomous zone and “re-secur[ing] a home in which the occupants were previously ordered removed by court order.”
Police later explained that it was not simply a protest they’d dismantled.
“We are aware of the stockpile of weapons and the presence of firearms,” Portland’s police chief, Chuck Lovell said in a video released Tuesday, according to local media. “We are aware of the threat to the community, to media, to police. We’ve seen the attacks. The Portland police will enforce the law and use force if necessary to restore order to the neighborhood.”
Officers have responded to dozens of calls made about the property and surrounding demonstration, including “reports of fights, shots fired, burglary, theft, vandalism, noise violations, trespassing and threats,” per KGW. The eviction order, city officials added, predates the coronavirus pandemic.
“The judgment was issued prior to state and federal emergency moratoriums,” they noted “The eviction moratoriums do not apply to evictions based on post-nonjudicial foreclosures, such as this case.”